USDA Orders Silence On
Mad Cow In Texas

Washington, DC (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has ordered its inspectors in Texas not to talk about mad cow disease with outside parties.
United Press International has learned that the gag order was sent May 6 by e-mail from the USDA's Dallas district office. It was issued in the wake of the April 27 case at Lone Star Beef in San Angelo, in which a cow displaying signs of a brain disorder was not tested for mad cow disease despite a federal policy to screen all such animals for the deadly disease, otherwise known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
The order reads: "All BSE inquiries MUST be directed to Congressional Public Affairs Phone #202-720-9113 attention Rob Larew OR Steve Khon. This is an urgent message."
Representatives from the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals -- the national inspectors union -- alleged the order suggests the agency is concerned about its personnel leaking damaging information about the Texas case.
Ijaz Qazi, the author of the e-mail and circuit supervisor for the Dallas district, told UPI the notice was not issued in response to the Texas case and inspectors are free to talk to outside parties, including reporters.
Copyright 2004 United Press International



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