- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S.
officials, grappling to control the mad-cow crisis, on Sunday expanded
the recall of more than 10,000 pounds of beef to eight mostly western states
- While federal investigators cautioned the hunt for beef
linked to a Washington state cow diagnosed with the deadly mad cow disease
was at an early stage, a high-ranking USDA official called on foreign countries
to end their ban on U.S. beef.
- A recall of the beef, which had been underway in Washington
state, Oregon, California and Nevada, was expanded to Alaska, Montana,
Hawaii, Idaho and Guam, the USDA said.
- The 10,000 pounds of beef represents meat from 20 animals,
including the sick cow, that were slaughtered at a Washington state facility
on Dec. 9.
- That meat has since been distributed to stores and some
of it possibly has been consumed.
- The USDA reported no further progress Sunday toward identifying
the birth herd of the Washington state cow, following information on Saturday
that the animal may have come from Canada.
- Most major importers, including Japan, Mexico and South
Korea, have sealed their borders to American beef and cattle. A USDA team
is in Japan to try to persuade Tokyo that U.S. beef is safe to eat and
that adequate safeguards are in place to control the spread of the animal
brain-wasting disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy
- "We think that the restrictions that are being imposed
should be lifted," said Ron DeHaven, the U.S Department of Agriculture's
- "Unfortunately, with this situation, what we've
seen internationally is again an overreaction, (with) trade restrictions
imposed more out of public perception than based on the science of what
we know about this particular disease," DeHaven told reporters.
- The first U.S. case of mad cow disease could cost the
cattle and beef industry billions of dollars in United States.
- The U.S. exports about $3 billion worth of beef a year.
A change in consumer sentiment, on top of the trade bans, would further
damage the $175 billion industry made up of more than 1 million businesses,
farms and ranches.
- Still unclear is whether American consumers will stop
eating beef out of fears they could contract a human variant of mad cow
disease. An outbreak of BSE in Europe more than a decade ago resulted in
137 human deaths, mostly in Britain. British farmers destroyed some 3.7
million cattle because of the outbreak.
- McDonald's Corp. (MCD.N: Quote, Profile, Research) ,
the largest U.S. hamburger chain, on Saturday said the crisis has had no
impact on sales of its beef products. It did not provide specific sales
- Attempting to demonstrate that it is being overly cautious,
the USDA said it expanded the beef recall despite the fact that the meat
presented "virtually zero" risk. DeHaven said the beef included
none of the brain, spinal cord or other risky tissues that carry mad cow
- Scientists believe the cow may have contracted mad cow
disease from contaminated feed when it was young.
- DeHaven said a small silver ear tag linked to the cow
"suggests that tag would have been applied in Canada."
- But Canadian and American officials said they won't know
for sure until DNA tests are run using tissue samples from the sickened
- DeHaven said Canada has obtained a semen sample from
"what is believed to be the sire of this infected cow." By comparing
DNA samples from both sides of the border, "We should be able to make
a firm determination" on where the Holstein cow was born, he said.