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Last Updated: Monday, 12 April, 2004, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
Rustlers grow fat on Atkins diet
cows
Dairy produce is the top commodity in the area hit by rustlers
The popularity of the high-protein Atkins diet has been blamed for a spate of cattle-rustling in California.

The late diet guru Dr Robert Atkins has been blamed for many food calamities - including the slump of the potato and bakery industries.

And now police in California's San Joaquin Valley say that, since July 2003, about 150 dairy calves have been stolen from farms in the area.

The dairy cattle are also unbranded, making them hard to trace.

'Hard to trace'

Beef prices have increased in recent months, as the number of Americans using high-protein diets such as the Atkins diet has increased, the Associated Press news agency reports.

This in turn has reportedly led to a new generation of rustlers who are stealing and sellling cattle on the black market.

Frank Swiggart, a detective for the Merced County Sheriff's office in San Joaquin Valley, says that up to 15 dairy calves have disappeared at a time.

Cattle rustlers also tend to take newborn or very young calves, he told the BBC's Newshour programme.

"They're easy to handle and they're hard to trace because the dairy industry does not have a tracking system for their new-born heifers," he said.

Dairy produce is the number one commodity in the San Joaquin area, which boasts more than 300 dairies, according to Mr Swiggart.

This, he says, makes it a "real grey area" for cattle rustlers to steal calves for their potential to produce highly prized milk.




SEE ALSO:
Atkins 'can put you in bad mood'
01 Mar 04  |  Health
Atkins 'was not obese at death'
12 Feb 04  |  Americas
Diet guru Atkins dies
17 Apr 03  |  Health


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