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Mad Cows and Mad Policies

20 June 2008

US - It has come to light that the United States Department of Agriculture has been keeping producers from screening their cattle for mad cow disease, branding the private tests worthless.

According to the Los Angeles Times the USDA have said that although the federal agency relies on the rapid-screen test for high-risk cattle, the test would be "worthless" in the hands of Creekstone Farms.

Knowing that customers, especially foreign ones such as Japan and South Korea, remain wary of the USDA's spotty screening program, the Kansas meat company has been fighting the agency for four years for the right to use the state-of-the-art testing lab it built, reported the Los Angeles Times.

The rapid-screen test is not completely accurate, but it has been useful enough for the USDA to employ. Creekstone still would not be able to legitimately label its products as free of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, the technical term for mad cow disease, but its customers should have the choice of deciding whether the extra screening is worth paying for.

The USDA contends that private testing is unnecessary and that its own program, which tests fewer than 1% of cattle, adequately protects the public from mad cow.

  • View the Los Angeles Times story by clicking here.

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