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Hot Off The Press
Posted By: STEVE COOLEY
Date: Friday, January 16, 2004 at 2:27 p.m.
Jan 16, 2004
Meat Processors Worried New Rules to Curb Mad Cow Disease Could Affect Sausage Quality
The Associated Press
MILWAUKEE (AP) - Some meat processors are concerned that a new federal rule designed to curb the spread of mad cow disease could hurt the quality of their products by prohibiting the use of beef casings.
The rule, announced this week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, requires the use of synthetic casings or pork casings on many sausages that have traditionally used natural beef casings.
"To a sausage-maker, synthetic casings are like oleo instead of butter or a fake Christmas tree versus a real one," said Louis Muench III, owner of Louie's Finer Meats in Cumberland, Wisc., about 70 miles northeast of St. Paul, Minn.
Muench said the casings are used to hold meat and spices during processing but then are peeled away by consumers and discarded.
The rule was enacted to protect consumers after a cow at a Washington state dairy farm was found in December to have had the brain-wasting disease. It was the first known case in the United States.
Mad cow disease is a public health concern because scientists believe humans who eat brain or spinal matter from an infected cow can develop variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. The incurable disease was blamed for 143 deaths in Britain, which suffered a mad cow disease outbreak in the 1980s.
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