Creekstone Ready To Test Its Animals

US - Creekstone Farms Premium Beef is getting ready to test all the cattle it slaughters for mad cow disease, after a U.S. district court judge ruled that the federal government does not have the authority to regulate the test, a Creekstone official said Tuesday.
calendar icon 5 April 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
An illustration of Creeksatone farms
"We're basically moving ahead if we have the right to test on June 1," said Kevin Pentz, vice president of operations for Creekstone in Arkansas City.

U.S. District Court Judge James Robertson set June 1 as the date the ruling becomes effective unless the U.S. Department of Agriculture appeals.

A USDA spokesman said today the agency is reviewing the case. A decision on whether or not to appeal has not been made.

The ruling represents an initial win for Creekstone in a lawsuit it filed against the USDA in March 2006. The suit was filed to force the agency to allow Creekstone to do its own testing for mad cow.

"It's definitely a very positive step for Creekstone, and we think for the whole industry," Pentz said.

The ruling would apply to other meatpacking companies that want to test for mad cow, Robertson ruled.

Creekstone wants to test all its animals for mad cow to meet the requirements of its Asian customers, specifically Japan and South Korea. The company has a laboratory for testing in its Arkansas City plant, and several Creekstone employees are trained to do the test.

Before filing the lawsuit last year, the meatpacker waited for two years to reestablish trade with Japan, which had banned American beef after mad cow was first discovered in the United States in December 2003.

Japan finally lifted its ban last year but has restricted American beef imports to cattle that is 20 months of age or less, Pentz said.

"With blanket testing, we're hoping (Japan would) allow all ages," he said. "There is still work to be done with Japan and the USDA in those regards."

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