Cattle growers have a beef with Oprah show
Winfrey will stop eating beef out of fear of mad cow disease

"We're All Going to Get It" says Oprah

Videotapes are not made available by the show. However, full written transcripts can be ordered from 1-800-777-8398. A portion has been transcribed below:

Call the Oprah Winfrey Show directly at 312/633-0808 to comment.

The show's mailing address is PO Box 909715, Chicago, IL 60690

Oprah Winfrey's email is

Some folks at APHIS/USDA weren't too happy with the show:

"The show was more based on emotion than scientific fact...."
"It was, but that is only partly the shows fault..."
"They had a former rancher [Howard Lyman of Humane Society, U.S.] turned veggie... rabid anti-beef guy and a rep. of National Cattleman's Beef Association named Weber to represent the beef industry.. Weber was very ineffective as a spokesperson.. had he spoken up in defense, presented facts on BSE (and E. coli, which was also brought up) the show would have been a tad more balanced."

And the Cattlemen's Beef Association wasn't too happy either


April 17, 1996 Oprah Winfrey P.O. Box 909715 Chicago, IL 60690 Dear Oprah: DENVER, April 17, 1996 -- Cattlemen today condemned the "scare-mongering" and damaging statements in an Oprah Winfrey TV Show on food safety. The criticism came in a letter responding to the April 16 show which included a misleading discussion of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy), an animal disease in British cattle, and the safety of American beef.

John Lacey, president of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), told Ms. Winfrey that the "irresponsible and biased show has done great damage to the million American farm and ranch families who raise cattle. The show, in giving anti- meat activists a platform for biased and unsubstantiated claims against beef, also has done a tremendous disservice to millions of American consumers. The show was one of beef-bashing -- not a responsible discussion of BSE and the safety of the American beef supply. You took a complex technical issue and turned it into an hour of unjustified scare-mongering."

"Scientific authorities overseas as well as in the U. S. agree that American beef is the safest in the world," Lacey said. ... Even if a BSE-human disease link were found, beef would not present risks. The BSE- causing agent is not found in beef or milk. Furthermore, ten years of data from an agressive USDA surveillance program confirms there is no BSE in U.S. cattle."

Lacey said the Winfrey Show producers apparently consider anti-meat activist Howard Lyman a more qualified spokesman than respected scientists like Dr. Koop. "You became a cheerleader for the anti-beef propaganda.

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association, a result of the merger between the National Cattlemen's Association and the National Live Stock and Meat Board, is a producer-directed organization representing all segments of the beef industry.

Howard Lyman, an ex-rancher with extensive knowledge of the beef industry, is currently employed by the Humane Society of the United States. Here is a transcript of what Lyman actually said on the Oprah show of April 16. 1996. Transcripts can be ordered from 1-800-777-8398.

Texas ordinances are subordinate to protection of free speech under the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Daily cattle futures on CBOE are volatile in the best of times, making it hard to attribute cause to temporary swings.

Plus, Lyman's remarks seem factually on target, even an understatement!

Other Participants on the show:
Oprah: "You said this disease could make AIDS look like the common cold?"

Lyman: "Absolutely."

Oprah: "That's an extreme statement , you know."

Lyman: "Absolutely. And what we're looking at right now, is that we're following exactly the same path that they followed in England: 10 years of dealing with it as public relations rather than doing something substantial about it. On hunderd thousand cows per year in the US are fine at night, dead in the moring. The majority of those cows are rounded, ground up, turned into feed and fed back to other animals....We should have them eating grass, not other cows. We've not only turned them into carnivores, we've turned them inot cannibals.... We've had a ban in the US of feeding sheep to cows for a long time, but when they went out and looked, 25 percent of the renderers admitted that they were paying no attention to it. Voluntary bans do not work....

Oprah: "Are they feeding cattle to the cattle?"

Dr. Weber: " There is a limited amount of that done in the United States. These are very -- hang on just a second. Well...

Oprah: "Mm-hmmm."

Dr. Weber: " The - the FDA..."

Oprah: "Because I have to just tell you ... that this is alarming to me."

Dr. Weber: "Yeah"

Oprah: "Dr. Hueston, you think mad cow's a threat to US cattle?"

Dr. Hueston: "...there's no evidence at all that we have BSE in the US."

Oprah: " What else are they going to say" Are they goint to say, 'Public, you are at risk. some of you may die and the cows are going to go crazy.' They couldn't have said that."

Lyman: "Why are we skating qround this when we know that [cease feeding cows to cows] would be the safest thing to do? Why is it? Becasue we have the greedy that are getting the ear of government instead of the needy, and tha's exactly why we're doing it....

Well, what it comes down to is about half the slaughter of animals is non-salable to humans. They either have to pay to put it into the dump or they sell it for feed, they grind it up, ... add to it all of the animals that died unexpectedly, all of the road kills and the euthanized animals -- add it to them, grind it up and feed it back to other animals....

We ended up feeding downed cows to mink; the mink come down with the disease, transfer it to animals. The animals came down with it. And you're sitting here, telling everybody that it's safe. Not true."

Oprah: " Well, [E. coli is another beef risk whick will kill 500 and poison 20,000 Americans this year. We'll talk about that awhen we come back...."


Buffalo News (BN) - Wednesday, April 17, 1996

WASHINGTON - Talk-show host Oprah Winfrey took on the beef industry Tuesday, saying she would stop eating hamburgers because of fears over mad-cow disease. Winfrey said on her show that she was shocked after a guest said meat and bone meal made from cattle was routinely fed to other cattle to boost their meat and milk production.

The camera showed members of the studio audience gasping in surprise as vegetarian activist Howard Lyman explained how cattle parts were rendered and fed to other cattle. Scientists have said the practice likely helped spread Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or mad-cow disease, to thousands of cows in Britain until it was outlawed in 1989.

The European Union imposed a ban on British beef last month after that government said it was possible people could develop the brain-wasting Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease after eating meat from animals infected with mad-cow disease.


Arizona Republic (AR) - Thursday, April 18, 1996
By: George Gunset, Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO - The fat is in the fire between U.S. beef producers and talk-show host Oprah Winfrey. In Chicago, Winfrey's gabfest is seen at 9 a.m., five minutes before trading in live-cattle futures begins at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

The two daily events had never been linked before. On Tuesday, however, the show's subject was "Dangerous Foods," which partly explored "mad-cow disease," or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, and its suspected link with a fatal human disease, a concern that has devastated the cattle industry in Britain.

Reports of the show spread on the trading floor, along with fears that the industry's side of the story had been given short shrift. Cattle prices sank in the belief that consumers watching the popular nationwide program would cut back on beef purchases.

The April futures contract sank the daily allowable limit of 1.5 cents a pound, to close at 58.925 cents. On Wednesday, it was down an additional 0.45 cent, closing at 58.45. "The program exacerbated what was already a negative situation in the market," said Charles Levitt, a livestock analyst with Alaron Trading Corp. "Meatpackers had lowered bids, and cash sales in the wholesale market werefar from brisk."

Levitt noted that cattle prices are about $8 per hundred pounds below a year ago because of slack consumer demand. "I think demand is off more because of the late spring than food-safety concerns from the mad-cow reports," Levitt said.

Contacted in Washington, Alisa Harrison, a spokeswoman for the National Cattlemen's Association, said that she had been at the Winfrey program taping last Thursday at Harpo Studios in Chicago, and that Gary Weber, the trade group's animal-health and food-safety expert, had been interviewed at the same time as Howard Lyman, a vegetarian activist.

"We knew it was a tough situation, that the deck might be stacked against us, but we had a good story to tell on food safety, that there is no BSE (mad-cow disease) in the U.S." Harrison said. "I think Gary held hisown during the taping." After viewing the program Tuesday afternoon, Harrison blasted it.

"We've been hearing from our members all over the country who are angry about the show," she said. "I have never seen such biased editing. They seem not to want to tell our story, that we have been ahead of the issue for 10 years." She said that perhaps three-fourths of Weber's comments were edited out.

Winfrey replied in a statement:

"I am speaking as one concerned consumer for millions of others. "Cows eating cows is alarming," she said of the practice of feeding processed cow byproducts to cattle. "Americans needed and wanted to know that. I certainly did.

"We think we were fair. I asked questions that I think that the American people deserve to have answered in light of what is happening in Britain. We gave them a chance to respond."