Cows are no strangers to praise, controversy, and bizarre news in India. The animal is considered sacred by Hindus, and many think cow urine and poop are loaded with benefits. Ministers too have backed these dubious claims by proclaiming that cow milk is yellow because it contains gold or that drinking cow urine cured their cancer.
But now, an Air India airlines passenger has taken shit to the next level. Quite literally.
On April 4, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials found a suitcase left behind with two cow dung cakes at Washington Dulles International Airport. The CBP officials were certainly not amused after finding the restricted items since they carry the risk of foot-and-mouth disease. The U.S. Department of Agriculture views it as a “worldwide concern” since the disease can spread rapidly.
“Foot and Mouth Disease is one of the animal diseases that livestock owners dread most, has grave economic consequences, and it is a critical threat focus of Customs and Border Protection’s agriculture protection mission,” said Keith Fleming, acting director of field operations for CBP’s Baltimore Field Office in a press release. “CBP’s agriculture specialists are our nation’s frontline protectors of vital agricultural and natural resources that help keep our nation’s economy strong and robust.”
The CBP officials destroyed the “cake surprise” as they called it in their release. It is not clear why the passenger brought it abroad but there could be many reasons.
Surprisingly, cow dung is selling like hot cakes in the U.S.. Walmart too has listed cow manure on their website in the gardening section. In 2016, cow urine was being sold in the food aisle in the UK, which led to a backlash.
Cow dung cakes packaged as a product to be used for religious rituals were also sold on Amazon in the United States. Reviews for the product include, “This is NOT a food. Perhaps remove the word ‘Cake’ from the name,” and “This just made our day. It’s impossible to get cow dung/cow dung cake in USA.”
After the outbreak of COVID-19 in India, some people have taken to using cow dung and cow urine as a cure for the virus — a claim which is not just unverified but also highly irresponsible. Last week, a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party encouraged people to drink cow urine to ward off the virus. Doctors, however, have strongly advised against this practice.
“There is no concrete scientific evidence that cow dung or urine work to boost immunity against COVID-19. It is based entirely on belief,” JA Jayalal, national president at the Indian Medical Association, told Reuters.
In 2020, the Indian government called for an initiative inviting research into the byproducts of “pure indigenous cows” like dung, milk, and urine. Over 100 scientists opposed the move and called it complete bullshit.