Mad Cow Disease

Published December 2003

On December 23, 2003, the US Department of Agriculture ( announced a possible positive case of Mad Cow Disease (BSE Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) in a Holstein cow in the state of Washington.

The OIE Reference Laboratory in Weybridge, England confirmed the diagnosis on December 25, 2003. The OIE is an intergovernmental organization, with 165 member countries, that works to control animal disease and develop rules for international trade.

The US-based Pet Food Institute ( emphasizes the following points:

  • Purchasers of petfood should be assured that commercially-produced petfood is safe.
  • In the early 1990s, Feline Spongiform Encephalopathy (FSE) was diagnosed in fewer than 150 pet cats in Europe, primarily in the UK. It is believed that these cats were fed “butcher scraps.” There has never been a case of FSE in the US.
  • Dogs have never been shown to be susceptible to BSE.

The case is likely to be isolated and the FDA has confirmed that the rendered materials from the affected cow never left the rendering plant.

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