What the Latest Mad Cow Case Means for Texas

Photo by Flickr user Andrea Rum/Creative Commons

The first case of mad cow disease in the U.S. in five years was discovered this week.

The first case of mad cow disease in the U.S. since 2006 was found in California this week. While the diseased cow didn’t enter the food supply, consumers, ranchers and officials are all watching and waiting to see what happens next.

So does Texas have cause to be concerned? The state’s agriculture commissioner, Todd Staples, said in a statement Tuesday that “American consumers can remain confident our food supply is the safest in the world, and Texas beef is as safe as ever.”

One possible effect of the mad cow case is a rise in beef prices. In an interview with KUT News, Staples said that he and the Texas beef industry are looking at beef futures markets to see what’s ahead. “I feel pretty good that we’ll be able to move forward,” he told KUT. “The fact that there is an all-time low in the number of Texas and U.S. beef herds also indicates that maybe it won’t have an economic impact.”

NPR’s food blog The Salt has a handy FAQ about the disease and the food supply. They say that “the cow in question wasn’t destined for the food supply. Its carcass had been sent to a rendering plant in California,” where it would likely end up as pet food or some kind of industrial product. And the cow had a rare form of mad cow disease, which is “different than getting the disease from eating feed made out of bone and tissue from infected cattle, which caused the outbreaks in England in the 1980s and 1990s.” You can read the full post here. 

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