In the February 3 New York Times, Donald G. McNeil interviewed Dave Louthan, who slaughtered the cow on December 9 that was later discovered to have had Mad Cow Disease. He disputes the official statement that the diseased cow was a “downer” and says, “Mad cows aren’t downers. They’re up and they’re crazy.” This means they’ll be much harder to identify, unless every single cow is tested. He also says that during slaughtering, debris from the spinal cord, where the dangerous prions lurk, “runs all over the beef.”

When Louthan heard the misinformation about the diseased cow being a “downer,” meaning a cow that can no longer walk, he began writing and e-mailing newspapers and government agencies. He says the cow was only identified as having the disease due to a “fluke” and accuses the Agriculture Department of parking cars outside his home “trying to scare me.” He claims one agent ordered him to stop sending e-mail.

He says the cow with Mad Cow Disease came from another ranch in Washington State and was “a good walker.” The only sign of disease was that her eyes were “all white, bugging out” and she was extremely restless. He thinks that not enough cattle are being tested for the disease because, “One mad cow is a scare, but two is an epidemic. They absolutely, positively don?t want to find another.”

Louthan also says that current slaughtering methods contaminate the entire carcass with spinal cord debris, meaning all the meat could become contaminated, not just the parts which harbor disease prions. McNeil writes that, “?splitters cleave the spinal column from neck to tail as hot-water jets blast fat and bone dust off the saw.” This slurry, containing potentially dangerous spinal material, flows over the beef, which is then cleaned by spraying with hot water and vinegar, neither of which will kill the prions.

Louthan lost his job after he told TV news reporters he was sure the Mad Cow had already been ground into hamburger and eaten.

We’ve got some magical kids in this world?we’ve got to protect them from danger.

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