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U.S. gov't fights to prevent testing of all slaughtered cattle for mad cow.

Original post made by Not The Onion on May 30, 2007

Agriculture Department argues that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry.

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WASHINGTON: The Bush administration said Tuesday it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for mad cow disease.

The Agriculture Department tests fewer than 1 percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. A beef producer in the western state of Kansas, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, wants to test all of its cows.

Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone should test its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive tests on their larger herds as well.

The Agriculture Department regulates the test and argued that widespread testing could lead to a false positive that would harm the meat industry.

A federal judge ruled in March that such tests must be allowed. U.S. District Judge James Robertson noted that Creekstone sought to use the same test the government relies on and said the government didn't have the authority to restrict it. - A federal judge ruled in March that such tests must be allowed. The ruling was scheduled to take effect June 1, but the Agriculture Department said Tuesday it would appeal, effectively delaying the testing until the court challenge has played out.

Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is linked to more than 150 human deaths worldwide, mostly in Britain.

Three cases of mad cow disease have been found in the United States. The first, in December 2003 in Washington state, was in a cow that had been imported from Canada. The second, in 2005, was in a cow born in Texas. The third was confirmed last year in an Alabama cow.

Comments (3)

Posted by Resident, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 30, 2007 at 5:20 pm

It was arguments like these that made Oprah make her famous comment about never wanting to eat beef again that got her into all that hot water!!


Posted by what the heck?, a resident of Midtown
on May 30, 2007 at 11:33 pm

Actually, I too avoid beef because of this issue. It is so irresponsible, but it is in line with our government being by big business and for big business.

It is also in line with how the US always deals with issues of toxicity and dangerous products. We were way behind Europe when it came to banning lead from paint for instance, or flame-retardants in furniture.And we are way behind on testing for mad cow disease. We don't know the extent of the problem in this country and won't until some serious testing happens... but the beef industry would rather we not know.

I for one eat much less beef than I would if they tested adequately.


Posted by Walter_E_Wallis, a resident of Midtown
on Jun 1, 2007 at 10:13 am

Why not check all wheat for ergot? Or all Mushroom soup for Deadly Nightshade? The force of the government should go where the risk is great. The lawsuit against Ophra should have been restructured - she libled meat producers by suggesting they did not care about risk to consumers.


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