Copyright (c) 2005 San Joaquin College of Law
San Joaquin Agricultural Law Review
COMMENT: DOWNED ANIMALS: CAN YOUR STEAK STAND UP FOR ITSELF?
2005 / 2006
15 S.J. Agric. L. Rev. 39
Downed animals, also referred to as "downers," present both food-safety and humane treatment issues. They are commonly left where they lie without food, water, or medical care, 1 or are dragged by chains to the slaughterhouse 2 to be processed for human consumption.
On December 24, 2003, American newspapers announced that America had its first case of suspected mad cow disease. 3 The animal came from a herd in Washington state 4 and was confirmed as a downed cow. 5 A downed animal is one that is diseased or injured to the point that it cannot stand up on it's own. 6 The United States Department of Agriculture ("USDA") officials announced that the cow was removed from its herd after she became paralyzed from calfing (birthing). 7 On December 26, 2003, Britain's Veterinary Laboratories Agency, a leader in Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy ("BSE") studies, confirmed preliminary positive tests of BSE in the animal. 8 BSE is a progressive neurological disorder found in cattle. 9 The Center For Disease Control believes that there is strong evidence that BSE can be transmitted to humans. 10
Stock prices immediately reflected the situation as McDonald's, Wendy's, and Tyson Foods all dropped in value on December 24, 2003. 11 By December 27, 2003, the United States had lost nearly all of its beef exports, and more than a dozen foreign countries stopped buying American beef. 12
In 2002, cattle represented 72.8 billion ...
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