Commissary answers ‘mad cow’ concerns

Courtesy of DeCA Public Affairs Office

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has conducted a Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, commonly called “mad cow” disease, surveillance program in the U.S. for 13 years and has tested more than 57,362 brain specimens from non-ambulatory (downer) cows that might indicate BSE.
On Dec. 23, 2003, the USDA announced it had found one case of BSE in Washington State in a dairy cow now believed imported from Canada. A full investigation is ongoing.
The USDA, the Food and Drug Administration, and the various organizations and businesses associated with the U.S. livestock industry have taken numerous steps to prevent BSE from ever becoming established in the United States.
Still, KMC shoppers may be concerned with purchasing meat at commissaries. Below is a list of answers to queries addressing customer concerns for DeCA, the “mad cow” disease and the USDA recall.
Q: Have DeCA commissaries sent back any beef or had any beef recalled due to the mad-cow case? If so, which commissaries, how much beef, and which cuts of meat?
A: None of the beef carried by DeCA commissaries falls under the USDA recall notice.

Q: Has the USDA made any recommendations in general or to DeCA specifically due to the mad-cow case? If so, what?
A: The USDA maintains that the U.S. beef supply is safe. Some beef associated with the infected cow has been recalled, but DeCA is not involved in that recall. There has been no special guidance from the USDA specifically aimed at commissaries.

Q: What has DeCA done since the mad-cow case was discovered to ensure its beef supply is safe?
A: DeCA food safety officials are following this issue very closely. BSE is believed to be present only in the nervous system tissue of cows, such as brain and spinal cord. All of the beef sold by DeCA originates from USDA inspected processing plants and our requirements for ground beef products specifically prohibit the use of spinal cord and other unauthorized parts of the cattle in ground beef. The latest information about recalls of products carried by commissaries as well as general food safety information can be found on the DeCA Web site at the Food Safety information link on the front page of

Q: What do you expect DeCA will do in the coming days in response to the situation?
A: DeCA food safety officials are following this issue 24/7 and will react to any new USDA guidance regarding beef sold in the United States or DeCA commissaries.

Q: Will DeCA do anything on its own in response to the situation?
A: Again, the USDA has the lead on food safety in this issue and has repeatedly issued assurances that U.S. beef is safe. If the USDA position changes we will react accordingly. As always, if a customer is dissatisfied with any product purchased at a commissary they should feel free to return it for a refund.

Q: Is there anything else you think the people who shop at commissaries should know about the beef they buy there.
A: Commissaries carry the highest quality USDA beef for our customers and according to the USDA, there is no reason to question its safety. Muscle tissue, or cuts of meats which are used in commissary beef products, are safe. Research shows that the agent that causes BSE, is not found in skeletal muscle tissue. The infective agent is largely in the brain and spinal cord, and tissues not normally consumed by our customers.