- Note - Of course, they don't...just think of what they
might FIND if all sick cattle were tested. This is getting to be more
- by the day. -ed
- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S.
officials, faced with the first case of mad cow disease on American soil,
said on Monday testing all injured or sick cattle for the brain-wasting
disease would do little to strengthen food safety.
- Kenneth Petersen of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's
Food Safety and Inspection Service told reporters that increasing mad cow
testing to cover all injured or sick cattle "doesn't appear to be
prudent, from at least a food safety standpoint."
- Some cattle arrive for slaughter with broken bones that
are "extremely localized" and do not affect the quality of their
meat, he said.
- The USDA's enforcement of food safety regulations has
come under scrutiny since it reported last week that a Washington state
dairy cow had mad cow disease. The cow was unable to walk when it arrived
- The industry has estimated there are about 195,000 downer
cattle -- those unable to walk because of broken bones, disease or sickness
-- out of a total 36 million cattle slaughtered in the United States each
- The USDA this year tested more than 20,000 cattle brains
for mad cow disease, and plans to nearly double that in 2004.
- Note - More absurdity. 35 million cattle are slaughtered
each year for food. So, the fabulous
- USDA 'plans' to 'nearly double' the fly speck number
of 20,000 they claim to test annually. What
- a fabulous gesture of concern for the public welfare,
- McDonald's Corp. and Wendy's International Inc. prohibit
the use of downer cattle in their hamburgers.
- The Consumer Federation of America has endorsed mad cow
testing of all downer cattle. So have the industry-funded Food Marketing
Institute and the National Restaurant Association.
- The White House has publicly defended the USDA's food
safety procedures. Privately, Bush administration officials have said that
if the U.S. case is linked to a Canadian herd in Alberta, where a mad cow
case was discovered in May, there may be little or no need to make any
- However, USDA officials said they were "seriously
considering" increased testing and a "test and hold" program
for downer cattle to strengthen its mad cow safeguards.
- The National Cattlemen's Beef Association, in a reversal
of its previous views, has endorsed a "test and hold" program
that segregates the carcasses of injured cattle from others until they
could be tested for mad cow disease.
- NEED RAPID TESTING
- To increase mad cow testing, the USDA would probably
have to switch to using rapid diagnostic test kits, industry officials
- "My guess is that USDA would need to use one of
the more rapid tests to be able to increase testing," said Rosemary
Mucklow, the director of the National Meat Association.
- Despite the existence of mad cow tests that take only
a few hours, the USDA prefers to use what it calls a "gold standard"
diagnostic test that can take as long as five days to complete. That, plus
a one-week delay while the tissue sample sat in a laboratory, are why it
took the USDA two weeks to determine that the Washington cow had contracted
mad cow disease.
- Sen. Thad Cochran, a Mississippi Republican who heads
the Senate Agriculture Committee, is not pressing for any immediate changes
in USDA procedures, a spokesman said. Adopting faster tests to detect mad
cow disease could carry the potential for false positive results, he said.
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