Beef tongues without tonsils are a delicacy. Beef tongues with tonsils are banned product by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Tonsils are "specific risk material" (SRM) as they contain tissues known to contain the infective agent for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle that have what is also known as "Mad Cow Disease."
That's why Omaha-based J.F. O'Neill Packing Company recalled 33,000 pounds of beef tongues late Thursday. The tonsils may not have been completely removed before they were shipped.
USDA regulations require the removal of tonsils from cattle of all ages. All SRM must be removed from the animal to minimize any potential human exposure to the BSE agent.