January 06, 2004

Mad about Mad Cow

In line at the fabled IKEA cafe today, the lady ahead of me demanded to know what was in those Swedish meatballs everyone was chowing down (and were neatly arrayed on her plate--and mine too). She was, evidently, concerned about the mad cow disease (BSE) threat now present on American soil.

I volunteered that they were probably from Sweden--heck, isn't everything in IKEA "from Sweden"? (globalization notwithstanding). [Tip o' the Stetson to the immense Swedish cattle and hog ranching community].

Nope, says the exceptionally polite cashier. Pork, beef, and who knows what from Brazil, New Zealand, and a bunch of other places that aren't the USA.

Besides, I say, aren't these things processed and frozen, then cooked? Wouldn't all that unnatural processing kill off any infectious agent?

Satisfied, the lady paid and sat down to eat. I did too. Mmmmm. Lingonberries.

Of course, I get back to my computer and Google (via FDA.gov, but Google is the omniscient one these days, ain't it?) tells me that a ton of other countries have had cases of mad cow disease. And yes, Sweden is on that list.

Then I read HowStuffWorks' page, and man, is this some scary shit.

What we know about mad cow disease:

  • You don't know you have the disease until it's converted enough of your brain to spongy crap and you're about to die. Could be years after you get infected.
  • You can't kill the agent that causes it by cooking or freezing.
  • You can't kill the agent that causes it with the usual disinfectants (e.g. Lysol).
  • We don't know what that agent is.

Dayyaaam. Is Stephen King now scripting our destiny? Did we really piss off God this time? Is this Osama's last laugh?

Guess I'll be cutting back on that weekly In-n-Out habit. Sigh. Good thing our company cafeteria serves up Niman Ranch burgers.

Posted by jameshom at January 6, 2004 06:16 PM | TrackBack
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