Organic and "natural" beef purveyors exploited news of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in Canada to say their products are "a true alternative" for consumers worried about "mad cow" disease.

Organic cattle are "never fed rendered animal byproducts that could have been contaminated" with BSE, said Organic Valley Meats in Wisconsin. California's Niman Ranch made similar claims.

But "it is against the law" to feed ruminant parts to all cattle, said University of Nebraska animal scientist Terry J. Klopfenstein. "It is incorrect to advertise one as better. I am not aware of any study that shows any difference." BSE infected both organic and conventional cattle in the UK.