So you`ve decided to buy only organic or grass-fed beef to avoid the risk of meat infected with BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy)
So you've decided to buy only organic or grass-fed beef to avoid the risk of meat infected with BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy). But what about your chicken dinner?
BSE is part of a family of fatal, nerve-wasting diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). The disease manifests as "scrapie" in sheep and as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.
Could poultry be susceptible to TSEs? It hasn't been proven, but there are some concerns about poultry as carriers of the disease. In Canada, feed for cows, sheep, and other ruminant (cud-chewing) animals cannot contain protein products from other ruminants. This ban was put in place to stop the spread of BSE among cattle. But poultry feed can contain protein rendered from ruminants, and about 10 per cent of poultry feed contains "protein sources such as meat and bone meal," according to the Chicken Farmers of Canada. These protein sources could be contaminated with BSE.
Some consumer advocate groups are concerned that pathogens in tainted feed could be passed from chickens to humans. In 2001 the European Union introduced a ban on feeding meat protein to all farm animals, including poultry and pigs. No ban on feeding beef to chickens or pigs has been issued in Canada.
Poultry producers assure that most chickens live less than 18 months, not long enough for BSE to develop. Organic, free-range chickens are not fed meat by-products.