USDA Finds 'Inconclusive'
Mad Cow Test Result

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- First-round screening tests returned "inconclusive" results for mad cow disease from one animal and samples were being submitted for final and more sophisticated analysis, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Thursday.
Results were expected in the next four to seven days. USDA declined to give details on the suspect animal or where it was tested. But officials said the carcass was being held out of processing and did not enter the food or feed supply.
Under USDA's procedures, it announces "inconclusive" results only when two rapid screening tests indicate more testing is appropriate. The determinative tests are conducted at a USDA laboratory in Ames, Iowa.
It was the third "inconclusive" result since June when USDA began stepped-up surveillance tests for the brain-wasting disease, which can be spread to humans through consumption of infected meat. Final-round tests determined the two other cases were negative. Some 113,000 cattle have been tested as of Monday.
Andrea Morgan, associate deputy administrator of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the sample came from an animal that was part of a "high risk population," which would suggest it was an older animal or displayed symptoms that called attention to it.
The first U.S. case of mad cow disease was discovered late last year. Most nations banned U.S. beef as a result. U.S. officials say, thanks to safeguards, U.S. meat is safe to eat and have been negotiating to re-open export markets.
Asked about the impact of the test result on talks with Japan, which has barred U.S. beef since last December, USDA Associate Deputy Administrator Andrea Morgan said, "I would not expect that that would affect them" because of the steps already taken by the agency to prevent the spread of the disease.
However, Morgan, who works for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said she was not involved in the U.S. negotiations with Japan on reopening its market.
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