Rendered/processed cow parts are used in a wide variety of consumer goods. (Mulvaney 1996) As The Wall Street Journal put it, "Processed cow fats are sometimes used to make cookies and salty snacks taste rich and to make lipsticks glide smoothly. Cow proteins show up in shampoo. Collagen, extracted from the inner layer of cattle hide, is used to balm wounds and cosmetically puff up lips. Gelatin, refined from cattle hide and bones, is found in such foods as ice cream, gummy candies and marshmallows--as well as the capsules encasing drugs." (Mulvaney 1996) Among other cow parts, the lips are bought by Mexico for use in taco filling; the hearts are used in Russian sausage; tracheas, femurs and kidneys are ground up for use in pet food; gallstones become Chinese aphrodisiacs; and tails become oxtail soup. (Mulvaney 1996)
The mad cow scare in New York City concerning Mamba fruit-chew candy, manufactured by Germany's Storck Co., grew out of a decree issued by the Polish Ministry for Health that prohibits the sale of products containing gelatin from cattle originating in certain countries of the European Union. Storck was directed by Polish health authorities to halt the sale of its fruit-chew candy. Polish officials feared the gelatin may have come from cows infected with mad cow disease.
In a statement, Storck said its production process eliminates any risk of mad cow disease, but it recently decided to replace the gelatin with a vegetable-based starch so consumers could "enjoy the candy without a second thought," according to a company statement.
During the disease outbreak period, the feed maker Purina Mills reported to the Food and Drug Administration that each of 1,200 cattle in Texas consumed a maximum of a quarter-ounce of banned feed that contained cattle remains. Mad cow disease, known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy in animals, eventually causes a spongy deterioration of the brain.
Humans who eat meat from infected animals became infected with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, according to the World Health Organization. From October 1996 to early December 2000, 180,000 cases were confirmed in animals in the United Kingdom and 87 cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease were reported in that country in humans. Three cases occurred in France and one in Ireland. No case in an animal or human was reported in the United States.
Now a detailed analysis of BSE, CJD and its new variant will follow with a conclusion at the end.
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)
In spring 1985, the first clinical cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) were reported in dairy cows in the United Kingdom. The clinical features of BSE included behavioral changes (irritability and aggression), abnormal posture, impaired coordination, difficulty in rising or walking, decreased milk production, severe muscular twitching, and loss of body weight. Rapid deterioration followed the initial symptoms, with death within six months. Pathologic examination of brain tissue detected diffuse cellular degeneration, with spongiosis and astrocytic gliosis. The epidemic peaked in 1992 and then decreased, after a number of measures were adopted to prevent its spread. Since the discovery of BSE, the total number of confirmed cases has amounted to more than 180 000, 99% of which were in cattle born in the US. The explosiveness of the disease dissemination and the homogeneous clinical and pathologic features pointed to