Mad Cow puts one in five Americans off their beef

ROCHESTER, New York, January 13, 2004 (ENS): One in every five American adults say that fear of mad cow disease will change their eating habits, according to results of a recent Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health-Care Poll. The nationwide poll of 2,378 U.S. adults was conducted online between January 6 and 8 by Harris Interactive for the "Wall Street Journal Online's Health Industry Edition."

The question asked was, "A cow was recently found with mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in Washington state. Do you think this will affect what or where you eat, or does it make no difference?"

Twenty-one percent of respondents said their eating patterns would change in response to the threat of mad cow disease, a fatal brain-wasting illness that can be transmitted to cattle or humans through consumption of infected meat.

Seventy-eight percent of these people say that they would eat less beef while 16 percent of them indicate that they will stop eating beef altogether.

A majority of 88 percent expressed confidence that the government will take necessary steps to avoid the spread of mad cow disease in the United States - 45 percent say that they have a great deal of confidence, and 43 percent say that they have some confidence.

Opinion is split as to whether the government's rules for feeding cattle and inspecting beef have been too lax or were sufficient. Forty-four percent of respondents said the government's rules were too lax or lenient; 33 percent say the rules were sufficient; and 23 percent were not sure.

"If the people who believe they will eat less beef actually do so, beef sales will take a serious short-term hit, and sales of poultry, lamb, pork and fish will rise," says Humphrey Taylor, chairman of The Harris Poll at Harris Interactive. "However, if no further cases of mad cow disease are reported, eating habits are likely to return to what they were before very long."

http://www.ens-newswire.com/ens/jan2004/2004-01-13-09.asp#anchor2

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