What this shows most clearly to me is that the meat industry doesn't
really give a damn about the health of the US consumer.
If they did, why would they have fought so long and hard to deny
any problem exists and vehemently refused to listen to anyone who
urged stricter safety measures -- measures they are today finally
embracing? Why do they continue to press their ill-fated frivolous
lawsuits against Lyman and Oprah, and continue to harass and try
to stifle the speech of these and other food-safety activists?
The obvious answer would appear to be that like the tobacco industry,
it is their bottom line -- and not the health of the consumer --
which is all that concerns them.
Funny how times have changed. Suddenly in 2001, Lyman's opinions
and recommendations from 1996 -- imploring the meat industry to
get serious about preventing Mad Cow disease in America -- seem
to make sense to the meat industry. When they see McDonald's profits
nose-diving into the mud, and witness new PR disasters engulfing
meat industries in new countries every week, only then do they take
notice. The subject of their prior and current litigation becomes
their cause du jour.
Here is a quote from an editorial which appears today on a meat-industry
The escalation of BSE outbreaks and protests and boycotts
across Europe has been the equivalent of throwing gasoline on
the fires of outrage such groups as the Consumer's Union and the
Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine love to keep brightly
What's industry's next move?
Well, there is an industry meeting of U.S. feed industry,
rendering industry and regulatory officials scheduled for this
Monday, Jan. 29, in Washington, D.C. The purpose, according to
Chuck Schroeder, CEO of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association,
which is coordinating the meeting, is to discuss “the need for
absolute vigilance” regarding the threat of BSE in the United
States and the potential flashpoints that exist in the preventive
system jointly maintained by industry and government.
“We have no tolerance for any slippage in compliance of those
regulations,” Schroeder has stated. I totally agree.
The meat industry needs a show of force at that meeting, to
insist that FDA increase its inspection, its enforcement and perhaps
the penalties it can levy for noncompliance in any of the key
areas listed above.
Yeehaa! Now that Mad Cow disease is threatening the bottom line
of the US cattlemen, now that the US government has quarantined
Texas cattle possibly exposed to BSE, the cattle industry is finally
ready to "take serious steps" to try to prevent the appearance
and spread of Mad Cow here.
Unfortunately, at this point they may be shutting the barn door
after the [mad] cow has escaped.