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Sensible article about atypical as misleading

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PORKER

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Cow from Texas?How about Mexico???
USDA officials continued Monday to provide only scanty details about the cow. They refused, for instance, to confirm reports the animal was found in Texas.

Bob Hillman, executive director of the Texas Animal Health Commission, said he did not know if the animal was from the Lone Star State.

Hillman said officials do believe the cow was born in the United States. A cow in Washington state found to have the disease back in 2003 had been imported from Canada.

USDA officials have not revealed the exact age of the problematic cow, but they noted it was born before August 1997 — the effective date on a ban on the use of certain feed believed to be capable of transmitting the disease.

USDA's failure to perform the Western blot test before being prodded by the Inspector General's Office gave fodder to critics.

"The USDA's testing regimen is really designed to miss rather than confirm cases of mad cow disease," argued Craig Culp, a spokesman for the Center for Food Safety in Washington. "The fact it took a special request from the agency's own inspector general to use the most definitive test available makes that abundantly clear."

Humans who eat beef products contaminated with mad cow disease can contract a devastating illness, known as Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

But USDA officials argue the procedures put in place to safeguard the nation's food supply worked. Because it could not walk on its own, the cow was never destined for the food chain.

And consumers remain confident about their food's safety. U.S. demand for beef has risen about 25 percent over the last several years, noted Matt Brockman, executive vice president of the Texas & Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association.

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