The first case of mad cow disease is announced the U.S. Americans freak out, other countries smirk and ban U.S. beef. Take that, U.S.A., for banning our food, like Mad Cow: UK Edition, Asian bird flu, and foot and mouth disease.

Mad cow disease is also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, BSE, which the US Department of Agriculture calls a "progressive neurological disease among cattle that is always fatal," and which can caused by eating "eating neural tissue, such as brain and spinal cord, from BSE-affected cattle." The NY Times explains what beefy foods not to eat:

Holstein cows

– Avoid ground beef unless they grind it themselves from a whole piece of muscle meat.
– Avoid brains, beef cheeks, neck bones.
– Avoid any meat that comes from the head and any meat that is taken from close to spinal column or containing bone that is part of the spinal cord, like T-bone, which was banned in some European countries during the outbreak in Britain.
– Avoid pizza toppings, taco fillings, hot dogs, salami, bologna and other products that contain not only ground beef but beef from machinery that squeezes out bits of meat that cling to the spinal column and other bones. Beef from this advanced meat recovery system is used in many meat products but bits of the spinal column are often not removed.

But, luckily for Atkins dieters, Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman says, "One important thing to remember is that muscle cuts of meat have almost no risk. I know of no science to show that you can transmit BSE from muscle cuts of meat." Yay, steaks are okay! But if you are extremely worried, you could try pork, the other white meat which is really not that white. And will this do anything to this year's incredibly high beef prices?

More about the Holstein cow, which is the breed found with BSE. And somewhere, Oprah is thinking, "I told you so": The Oprah Mad Cow show transcript, which lead the trial of Texas cattlemen against her for making people afraid of beef (Oprah prevailed), which led to her meeting Dr. Phil, who Gothamist thinks is scarier than all the mad cow in the world.