Center for Global Food Issues Provides Information on Mad Cow Disease

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Non-profit group addresses misleading marketing claims about food safety and BSE.

The Department of Agriculture has announced an inconclusive test result for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), more commonly known as "mad cow disease.” In the past such inconclusive results have turned out to be negative on further analysis, however, the appearance of a second case of BSE in the United States would not be cause for concern about the safety of American beef. The non-profit Center for Global Food Issues applauds the continued open and transparent manner in which regulators and the American beef producers and processors are scientifically and responsibly addressing the BSE issue.

The Associated Press reported this week that in light of Mad Cow concerns, organic and natural product company “marketing claims confuse beef consumers.” Recent research reveals that some advocacy and marketing interests are working in concert, seeking to use public announcements regarding mad cow disease for profit and promotion. Some organic food companies, advocacy organizations, and other special interest groups are using the news media and the Internet to promote misleading marketing claims through Web sites, press releases, and paid advertising. The Center for Global Food Issues (CGFI) operates http://www.mad-cow-facts.com to help concerned consumers find independent, balanced and credible information and links related to mad cow disease.

“We want consumers to have the facts, not the fears that many special interest groups and those in the organic and natural products industry are advancing,” said Alex Avery, Director of Research at CGFI. “Since the discovery of mad cow disease in Washington State we’ve seen numerous press releases, new Web sites and a wide-range of online advertising tactics seeking to exploit public and media perceptions of this issue.”

CGFI notes that the top search results for “mad cow” in popular search engines are now dominated by advocacy and marketing groups promoting organic agriculture. Companies like Stonyfield Organic Yogurt as well as anti-meat activists such as PETA have purchased online advertising in the form of sponsored links found on news sites reporting on mad cow disease such as About.com and CNN.com. News articles and broadcasts have repeatedly reported misleading claims found on these sites suggesting that organic beef is safe from BSE-related risks. In fact, organic beef producers were among the first to report cases of BSE in Europe.

“CGFI believes that these activities irresponsibly exploit mad cow-related concerns of American consumers with false and misleading fears about conventional agriculture and traditional American beef production practices,” noted Avery. “Certain advocacy groups and unscrupulous marketing interests are spreading false fears for profit and to promote their special interest agendas.”

CGFI agrees with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and world-leading academic experts that these types of direct and implied food safety claims are not based in medical or scientific fact, risk undermining public confidence in safe food and cause harm to American farmers and ranchers. The Web site http://www.Mad-Cow-Facts.com seeks to help consumers find credible information and commentary about mad cow disease.

The Center for Global Food Issues is a project of the Hudson Institute, a tax-exempt non-profit public policy organization, providing factual, science-based information on important food and farming issues.

Contact:    

Alex Avery

Research Director

Center for Global Food Issues

(540) 337-6354

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