(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
Despite the U.S. Department of Agriculture's recent announcement of a presumptive positive case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the official name for mad cow disease, in Washington state, Missouri agriculture officials and meat sellers remain unconcerned.
Terry McKinnie, meat manager at McKinnie Bestway, said that while he expects people will be "kind of leery about beef," they shouldn't be. "The beef is going to be good - nothing's going to be wrong with the meat products," he said.
"I think it's just going to be an isolated case," predicted Mike Simmons, manager of the meat department at Sikeston Market Place. "They'll quarantine that one place and make sure it won't spread anywhere else."
"It is important to note that BSE poses little threat to the human food supply and is not easily transmitted from animal to animal," Missouri's Director of Agriculture Peter Hoffherr said in statement released to media Tuesday. "Scientific findings show the disease is not transmitted through the muscle cuts of meat that we typically enjoy at mealtime, but through nervous system tissues such as the brain and spinal cord."
Simmons said Market Place doesn't even carry the types of products which may transmit BSE. "All our meat is muscle meat," he said. "We don't sell any of that part of the cow...Some of them use that to make hamburger with but we don't."
McKinnie said they get most of their meat from Ohio and Simmons said his suppliers are from Colorado, Texas, Iowa, Nebraska - nowhere near the reported case.
"And we don't use any 'cow' meat - that's what they call Jersey meat," Simmons said. "That's milk cow. When those get where they wont make milk anymore they make hamburger out of them, but we don't use any of that. It's available but I never buy it."
The mad cow scare may actually bring meat prices down, according to the local merchants, due to the drop in exports until the matter is resolved.
Countries such as China and Japan "have been buying up all the beef and that's why prices have been so high," McKinnie said. "They stopped buying it from the United States since this came out."
"We encourage people to continue to include beef in their diets and to make informed decisions about this situation from credible sources," Hoffherr said in his press release. "I urge Missourians to enjoy the holidays and rest assured that all of us involved with Missouri's agricultural industry are working to ensure our food supply remains safe."