Mad Cow Disease & Milk

I’ve written before about the USDA and FDA’s seeming inability to enforce their own regulations aimed at stemming the spread of mad cow disease.

Now this.

A new study in Canada suggests that the prions that cause mad cow disease can be passed through milk.

New research into prions, the infectious agents that cause mad cow-like diseases, has found them in the mammary glands of some sheep, raising questions about whether milk and milk products from infected animals could transmit the pathogens.

Prion experts were quick to insist the current potential risk to human health is low and may even be nil.

But they suggested the findings are a warning that if prion diseases in livestock aren’t rigorously hunted for and rooted out, milk and products like cheeses and yogurt could be a potential route of transmission of prions to humans.

In humans, prions — highly infectious misfolded proteins — cause the brain wasting variant-Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or CJD.

The story broke two days ago, but has been carried primarily in the foreign press so far. I can’t find it in any major U.S. papers yet. There is a growing concern over food safety in this country, and I think this could be potentially explosive if picked up by major U.S. media outlets.

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