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  • The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that a family is suing Kroger-owned QFC on the grounds that the chain failed to adequately inform them about the "highly hazardous" meat that they bought and consumed that was linked to the nation's first and only case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), better known as mad cow disease.

    The suit alleges that the family bought and later ate ground beef from their local QFC that was part of a batch that included meat from the diseased Holstein. The beef was later shipped to wholesalers and retailers in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Montana and Nevada.

    However, Jeff Burt, QFC's vice president of marketing, said Friday that the company responded more than appropriately in recalling the beef and notifying customers. "QFC always acts in the interest of the customer and does not wait," Burt said. "We reacted quickly and voluntarily removed ground beef before a formal withdrawal was announced."

    The suit is believed to be the first connected to the discovery of mad cow disease in the US.

  • It also was reported last week that the United States has decided not to eliminate or reduce restrictions on Canadian beef and cattle entering the US. The sole case of mad cow disease found in the US was traced back to a Canadian herd.

    However, the US has completed a new agreement with Mexico that has the nation south of the border now accepting US meat exports.

KC's View:
The problem with all this is that so much of what the government seems to say seems suspect…that it is looking to prevent panic and the economic repercussions even at the expense of accuracy and the truth.

There's an interesting piece by Don Tapscott in Wired in which he argues that there is no excuse for a food safety system that isn’t exhaustive and comprehensive in its administration and results.

In part, Tapscott writes:

    A comprehensive tracking system for livestock and poultry could link an animal's identity to its history. Using sophisticated (but relatively simple to use) DNA-based technologies and smart database management, even the largest meat producers could guarantee quality and safety.

    Other industries have already figured this out, granting customers, employees, business partners, and communities unprecedented access to information. The food makers haven't caught on, but they need to. Responsible government agencies - the Food and Drug Administration and the US Department of Agriculture, among others - have neither the resources nor the ability to build this kind of system. (Putting Feds in charge of national databases is never a good idea, even when they're calibrated to tenderloin instead of terrorism.) So, it's up to the producers. As usual, their motivation won't be found in the kindness of their hearts; it'll come from their bottom lines. Outbreaks hurt everyone in the business, and food companies that distinguish themselves with good practices will make more money. They'll feel naked in the sunshine, but feeling naked will motivate them to get buff.

    Read the piece, entitled The Transparent Burger: