Monday, July 01, 2013

Groundhog Day?

Hard on the heels of yesterday's 'exclusives', the red tops have had a field day, with pictures of burgers and a rehash of how Defra are selling 'diseased cattle' into the food chain.

The regulations governing meat inspection go back to 1963, and are framed around looking for bovine zoonotic tuberculosis - so this is hardly 'new' or news worthy. Nevertheless, we will cut / paste from the Defra handbook exactly what happens to cattle that have reacted to the skin test.
All animals entering the food chain are inspected by a veterinarian before they are slaughtered. Before they can be stamped as fit to eat, officials of the Meat Hygiene Service (under veterinary supervision) will carry out a post-mortem health inspection.
TB reactors, IRs and DCs are clearly identified and slaughtered separately from other cattle. They are given a more detailed inspection, and diagnostic samples are usually collected.
If an animal is healthy before it is slaughtered, and no TB lesions are identified in post-mortem inspections, the carcase is considered fit to enter the food chain regardless of whether it came from a TB reactor, IR or DC. There are no barriers to trade in this meat within Great Britain or the European Union.
If TB lesions are found in one organ or one part of the carcase of reactors, IRs or DCs, that organ or that part of the carcase is removed and condemned. If the rest of the carcase is free from TB lesions, it is considered fit to enter the food chain.
In all other cases (that is, if more than one organ or more than one part of the carcass has lesions), the whole carcase and all the offal is condemned and destroyed.
If bTB is suspected during routine meat inspections of cattle that have not been slaughtered as reactors, IRs or DCs, Meat Hygiene Service inspectors decide whether to condemn the carcase on a case-by-case basis.
And that is how it has been for the last 50 years. Despite attempts by animal rights campaigners or vegan organisations to muddy the waters. Note the date on the last link, by the way.

This particular ball was set rolling by CWI (Care for the Wild International) but only the Grocer magazine gave them a mention. As a charity, this is possibly not what they intended from their recycling of this piece of old non-news.

 But we can see this one unrolling along with the following scenario:
"If Defra are comfortable selling 39,000 cattle (in GB) which have failed a TB test into the food chain and milk is pasteurised, why bother to test cattle and more to the point, why cull wildlife reservoirs of zoonotic TB at all?"
And the answer to that, leads us neatly back to pets, companion mammals and other victims, not normally associated with bovine zoonotic tuberculosis. So back to yesterday's cat story which apart from raising some very valid questions, drew an interesting comment about the consequences of zoonotic tuberculosis in domestic cats:
"I have had a cat with bovine tuberculosis , it was treated by the Bristol University veterinary department and at home for 2 years with human antibiotics ,there are not any cat ones, she was pronounced better but after another 18 months the disease came back.
It was the most horrendous experience. The family had to be medically checked for 2 years.
It is the most horrible disease for animals and humans and a sensible path has to be taken to eradicate. vaccination for farm animals and domestic pets and wild animals where appropriate. sentimentality wont cure the disease . So its not imagination its a real threat.
An that is precisely the point of International obligations to control zoonotic tuberculosis - wherever it is found.

 We'll finish with a howler of a grammatical fault, printed in its initial publication by the Mail online (and now belatedly but sadly, corrected.)

Some very large badgers, making hooooge holes in their ancestral homes then, or very, very small cows?

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