[EDITORIALS]Mad cows and sick ducksFollowing the probable outbreak of mad cow disease in the United States, the whole world is in an emergency situation. The Korean government responded to the outbreak by stopping the import of beef from the United States. But concern for the disease is spreading. With the recent outbreaks of bird flu and hog cholera here, the concern about beef further aggravates worries over food.
It is well known that mad cow disease may infect humans, so the import of meat infected with the disease should be strictly prohibited. Beef currently circulating in the nation should be investigated thoroughly as well. Spines and internal organs of cattle, parts that are said to be risky, should be collected and destroyed. Processed foods and related products made from American beef should be checked as well.
The authorities and farmers should make efforts to find out whether domestic cattle are infected with the disease and, if not, to prevent them from catching it. It is also necessary to publicize not to feed mixed feed of ground animal bones and leftover meat suspected to carry the disease. The government should provide the necessary personnel and equipment to support such efforts, and cattle raisers should cooperate with the government.
The measure to secure a sufficient supply of beef is urgent as well. U.S. beef imports are 44 percent of domestic beef consumption. Beef imports from 23 countries where the disease has broken out, including the United Kingdom and Canada, are already banned. Because we can import beef only from Australia and New Zealand, supplies may not be sufficient. The demand for beef will increase further with the holidays coming, and if concern about avian flu continues, the price of domestic beef could skyrocket.
Consumers, for their part, should not aggravate the situation by getting overly concerned and fearful. Studies show that hog cholera will not infect humans and that eating chicken and duck meat is safe as long as the meat is cooked. The government should not only take preventive measures against these diseases, but also provide precise scientific information about them to our people.