US officials accused of covering up human deaths from BSE and discouraging testing of suspected animals

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Friday, July 1, 2005

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Dr. Lester Friedlander, a former United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) vet, had been blowing the whistle on the USDA beef inspection practices before the latest case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was confirmed. Dr. Friedlander said that inspectors are allowed only 15 seconds of inspection and that unhygienic practices are common in the meat industry; practices such as cow carcasses with abscesses being hosed off, wrapped up and shipped to the consumer.

Friedlander also claims that some supervisors were more concerned about falsifying inspection documents than protecting consumers and that on June 9, 2005, a cow in Texas with BSE symptoms was sent straight to the rendering plant without testing.

There have also been allegations of a "don't ask,don't tell" approach being applied by US health officials when confronted with human deaths which may be caused by eating BSE contaminated meat. The Organic Consumers Association reported last year that hundreds of people are dying in the US each year from Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD or vCJD) (the human counterpart of BSE) and the deaths are being written off as "unexplainable". The disease causes holes in the brains of the victims.

A New Jersey lawyer, Janet Skarbek is being called "the next Erin Brockovich" for her research into the "Cherry Hill cluster" of 12 deaths she said were caused by people eating BSE infected meat; "I'm up to 12 confirmed cases of CJD, where it says CJD on their death certificates and where they all ate at the same racetrack," Skarbek said.

New Jersey state officials have said that the 12 deaths did not result from the human form of mad cow disease, but rather from sporadic CJD; but Skarbek says the government's numbers don't add up. "If you just take five of the victims from New Jersey that ate at the track most recently, two were out of 100 administrative employees and three were out of 1,000 season-pass holders. So out of that population of 1,100 people, we should see one case of CJD every 909 years."


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