Amazingly enough, the Agriculture Department is fighting a meat packer’s plan to voluntarily test all slaughtered cattle for mad cow disease.
The government doesn’t need to test all slaughtered cattle for mad cow disease, since the danger of mad cow disease from any given cow is extremely, astronomically low, verging on nonexistent. It would be a waste of taxpayer money and limited agency resources. Other food-borne illnesses are more of a reality and thus merit priority in screening.
But a small number of Americans won’t eat beef because of their mad cow fears, however irrational such fears may be. The market for beef would thus increase slightly if a meatpacker were allowed to cater to such idiosyncratic people by carrying out voluntary mad cow testing.
Moreover, the image of the government blocking mad cow testing looks bad. It could be seized on by foreign countries as a pretext to restrict imports of American beef, thus eliminating American jobs.
It also helps obscure the fact that American food safety is among the best, if not the best, in the world, with rates of food-borne illnesses steadily falling over the years.