Slight Mad Cow Risk Leads to Recall

Mad cow disease concerns cause recall of beef products sent to Whole Foods and restaurants

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Talk of mad cow disease tends to make people nervous - with reason - even when the risk is low. Such concern has led to a recent recall of beef products.

The beef products have been recalled due to the fact that they may contain parts of cows that have been tied to mad cow disease in the past.

Officials reported that the risk is low, but suggested that any concerned consumers contact their doctors.

"Be sure to cook meat and poultry products completely."

The United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) reported that around 4,012 pounds of fresh beef products have been recalled by Fruitland American Meat, a company based in Jackson, Missouri.

The beef products were recalled because a branch of the nervous system called dorsal root ganglia may not have been completely removed from the products. These parts of the cows can potentially be infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), often called mad cow disease.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), BSE is a progressive neurological disorder that has rarely been discovered in US cattle. The condition has been tied to Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (variant CJD) a rare and fatal neurological condition in humans.

As a routine safety procedure, it is required that these parts are removed from cattle aged 30 months or older before products made from these animals are used as food for humans. This is in an effort to reduce the risk of exposing humans to mad cow disease.

"The problem may have occurred as a result of the way some company employees were recording information and determining the age of various cattle," explained FSIS.

The recalled products include bone-in ribeye roasts and quartered beef carcasses produced between September 2013 and April 2014. These products were sent to a Whole Foods Market distribution center located in Connecticut that provides products to Whole Foods stores throughout New England, and to an unspecified distribution center in Missouri. The products were also sent to a restaurant in New York, New York and a restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri.

According to FSIS, every animal involved was inspected by a FSIS veterinarian before their death and no signs of BSE were discovered. Furthermore, no cases of illness tied to these products have been reported.

FSIS noted that the health risk to the public is low, but recommended that anyone with concerns about illness in connection to these products should reach out to a healthcare provider.

Review Date: 
June 16, 2014
Last Updated:
June 17, 2014