The Cost Of Testing Every Cow
From Patricia Doyle, PhD

Hello, Jeff - I found the information. The cost is $30 per cow.
According to the article below, they are figuring in $10 for the test kit, then salaries, lab fees, cost of grinding up and delivering up cattle brain samples. I still think that even at $30 - 50 dollars each cow, the price is worth it.
The industyy will lose billions if nothing is done and testing is held at the bare - or less then bare minimum. In all, total testing of each cow would add about 6 to 10 cents per pound. Well worth the effort. There will always be those who want their beef.
I like the last sentence:
"Furthermore, why not reconsider the use of animals as human food?"
Mad-Cow Testing on Trial
Should U.S. Start to Screen Every Last Cow, as in Japan?
'A Negligible Cost Increase'
By Thomas M. Burton and Martin Fackler
Wall Street Journal
When mad-cow disease struck, nations across Europe struck back with comprehensive cattle-testing. So did Japan. Is the U.S. next?
The grand total to test about 10 million cows in the U.S. would be $300 to $500 million a year. Considering that Americans spend more than $50 billion on beef annually, that would add between six cents and 10 cents per pound.
It wouldn't be hard: Four companies already offer test kits that can, within four hours, tell if a slaughtered cow carries bovine spongiform encephalopathy, otherwise known as BSE or mad-cow disease. It wouldn't cost much: Test kits cost about $10 a pop.
Add in salaries of lab technicians, the cost of grinding up and delivering cattle brain samples for testing, and the tab would be $30 to $50 per animal, industry experts say. The average U.S. cow slaughtered for food yields meat with a retail value of $1,636.
Each year in the U.S., about 35 million cattle are slaughtered. About 10 million of these animals -- those over 30 months of age -- would be tested for BSE if the U.S. were to adopt European standards, because age is associated with infection.
The grand total to test about 10 million cows in the U.S. would be $300 to $500 million a year. Considering that Americans spend more than $50 billion on beef annually, that would add between six cents and 10 cents per pound.
"Cost should not be a prohibitive factor," says Scott McKinlay, president of InPro Biotechnology Inc., South San Francisco, Calif., a test-kit maker founded by Nobel Prize-winning researcher Stanley B. Prusiner.
"Look at Canada as an example," says Mr. McKinlay. "They have suffered about a $600 million loss already" in lost beef exports and consumption.
Japan has the most extensive testing system in the world. All slaughtered cattle there are tested, no matter the age. "Public opinion supports the policy of testing every cow," says Kazuki Ikeda, an official in the Agriculture Ministry's Department of Meat and Poultry. "For a relatively small cost, consumers feel their safety is guaranteed."
Still, even some testing-firm officials believe Japan's program is excessive, largely because the brains of younger cattle are extremely unlikely to contain infectious prions, the malformed proteins that carry the disease.
"I like to sell test kits, but [Japan's approach is] insane," says Markus Moser, co-chief executive of Zurich testing firm Prionics AG. Throughout the continental European Union, countries test all cattle over 30 months that are slaughtered; Germany includes all over 24 months.
The American approach has been to test only about 20,000 cattle annually, roughly one in every 1,700 slaughtered. The animals chosen for testing are "downer" cattle, those too ill or lame to walk into the slaughterhouse, and are subjected to an "immuno-histochemistry" test that takes at least five days for results.
The Washington State Holstein that was tested and found to harbor mad-cow disease was a downer, and its meat entered the food chain before the testing was complete -- an occurrence that might have happened any time under regulations then in effect. Tighter U.S. regulations announced this week prohibit the slaughter of downer cattle for food. But testing for BSE will continue to focus on downer cattle, presumably because they are likelier to carry the disease.
U.S. industry and government executives say they see no great need for wider testing. But others point out that symptomless cattle can carry the disease. Indeed, among 8.5 million older cattle tested in Europe in 2001, tests found 2,142 carried BSE.
In the European experience so far, testing all older cattle has cost roughly $30 to $50 per cow. In Japan, it is about $31 per cow. Japan uses test kits made by Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc. of Hercules, Calif., and Ireland's Enfer Scientific, which licenses its test to Abbott Laboratories, North Chicago, Ill.
"In Switzerland and the rest of Europe, it is a negligible cost increase, a few cents in the cost of beef," says Prionics's Dr. Moser.
After a single Alberta cow tested positive for BSE in May, Canadian officials tested the herds that had come in contact with the animal. The Canadian government has stopped short of instituting a European-style testing program, but Bruno Oesch, co-CEO of Prionics, says Canada now plans a more extensive surveillance system of approximately 50,000 tests annually. Canadian officials didn't respond to calls for comment.
Dr. Oesch predicts that the minimum probable U.S. program "is going to be a surveillance program of half a million animals." The U.S. Agriculture Department says it's too early to say.
Because of its slowness, the U.S.'s current immuno-histochemistry test wouldn't be practical for widespread use. Various firms have created faster tests. But before any could be used in the U.S., the tests must first be approved by the Agriculture Department. That hasn't happened yet. Following the Canadian outbreak, Abbott sent its test data to the department in October, says Jim Koziarz, Abbott's head of diagnostics research. "The Canadian experience provided an impetus," he says.
Any testing program would need government vigilance to ensure that labs employ trained personnel and that tests minimize the problem of false positives, a problem that initially plagued German cattle testers.
Three years ago, German lab technicians found 100 positives among 200 brain samples from cattle -- four times as many BSE cases as were then extant in Germany. The findings, from kits made by Bio-Rad, in some cases led to quarantining farms and slaughterhouses. But subsequent tests discovered it had been a false alarm. Bio-Rad says the problem was with the labs, and testing industry executives generally say the false-positive problem, while already small, is getting smaller.
"In Germany, anybody who had a lab could do testing," says Dr. Oesch. "In Italy, they took tight control and only allowed test reading in government labs. Now, BSE isn't a topic there anymore."
Industry and U.S. laboratory estimates suggest the false-positive rate is about 1 in 10,000 with some of the tests. This would mean 1,000 cattle out of 10 million tested could result in false positives. When that happens, the next step is to "test the test" with the slower test used by the Agriculture Department. Colorado State University's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory uses the same rapid test to check deer and elk for "chronic wasting disease," another prion disease like BSE.
Barbara Powers, director of the Colorado State lab, says the false-positive problem is "very, very rare" -- about 1 in 10,000 -- and the lab in those instances simply verifies the result using the current, slower test.
A potentially more serious problem: false negatives. Prions can be present elsewhere in younger animals before traveling to their brains. There is currently no practical way of rooting out all such cases, but these are believed to be extremely rare and far less likely to infect people who eat them.
There are "differences of 10 million-fold in infectivity" between such an early-stage animal and the far more infectious, older animals with prions in the brain, Dr. Moser says. note:
We ask why should they be get a seal of approval just by testing every animal in the US? Why not adopt a standard of raising animals that ensures them to be 100% healthier without feeding the unfortunate animals living in overcrowded conditions being fed pesticide-ridden food and being shot up with growth hormones and antibiotics? Furthermore, why not reconsider the use of animals as human food?
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
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