Selling Meat from TB-Positive Cows as Food in the UK

meat cowAccording to a report by The Sunday Times, United Kingdom meat consumers are reportedly buying meat from cows diagnosed with tuberculosis. Although leading retailers like Tesco, turn down meat products obtained from such cows, Defra has been reported to sell the meat to food processors and some caterers who then supply them to hospitals, schools and even the military. According to the spokeswoman for Defra, the meat obtained from cattle diagnosed with bovine TB undergoes intensive food safety tests prior to being sold and declared fit for human consumption. The spokeswoman further asserted that no single case of TB has been reported for those consuming the meat.

Cooking is one way in which the tuberculosis-causing bacteria is destroyed. Despite this fact, reliable evidence from different studies has noted that transmission of such bacteria may occur during the handling process. Human-to-human transmission is possible when handling unprocessed or raw meat. The Defra spokeswoman defended their action by arguing that cooking served as a safety net and emphasized that even prior to cooking, the risk of passing tuberculosis bacteria from meat to human was extremely low. The Sunday Times reported that there was no mark to discern between the meat obtained from cows diagnosed with bovine tuberculosis and that obtained from healthy cows.

It has been reported that a key contribution to the transmission of bovine tuberculosis in cows is the badger population in the United Kingdom. Culling of numerous badgers in the country has been taken as a first measure in curbing the spread and transmission of tuberculosis. It is essential for the Food Standards Agency to ensure that all the necessary steps and tests are conducted to ensure that meat consumers are at no risk of getting TB from infected beef and its products.