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Too little, too late

In response to growing public concern over Mad Cow Disease, the American Meat Institute is proposing a new certification program. Under this voluntary program, cattle marketers would certify that "to the best of my knowledge" their animals were not fed protein derived from mammalian tissues. J. Patrick Boyle, president of the AMI said that "We want to reassure ... consumers that the cattle we process into beef products meet all federal requirements, including their diets and medications." Meanwhile, because bags of feed can and do get mixed up, the animal feed industry is working on its own certification program to ensure that cattle and sheep by-products are kept separate from other feedstuff.

Whether these belated, voluntary efforts manage to protect the public and calm their fears remains to be seen. Can an industry that saves costs by fattening ruminants on pizza crust, chicken feathers, gummy bears, chicken manure, candy bars, bubble gum, cement dust, and ground-up telephone books be relied upon to produce a safe and healthy product?

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