cowI don’t eat meat. So this doesn’t matter to me, but what would you do if someone served you a hamburger and said the beef came from cows too weak or sick to stand. Hopefully you’d be too grossed out to eat it.

These animals are called “downer” cows and many health experts insist keeping these cows in the food system heightens the risk of mad cow disease.

As a result, Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has banned downer cows from our food supply. Vilsack calls the move an advance in food safety and the humane treatment of animals.

During last week’s presidential address President Obama called the current U.S. food inspection system a hazard to public health, citing the recent salmonella-peanut butter outbreak responsible for hundreds of illnesses and nine deaths.

Last year a partial ban on downer cows was put in affect, but surprise-surprise, there was a loophole. If a cow collapsed after passing government food inspection it was allowed into the food supply. This move was initiated after the U.S.’s first case of mad cow disease in 2003.

In 2006 the Bush administration dramatically cut back testing for mad cow disease, despite mad cow outbreaks in Texas in 2005 and Alabama in 2006.

Via the Associated Press.