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USDA fear of BSE retesting

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Tommy

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USDA fear of BSE retesting

Audit: USDA feared beef test



BY MARC KAUFMAN THE WASHINGTON POST

Saturday, February 4, 2006

Source: Arkansas Democrate Gazette



WASHINGTON — Agriculture Department officials overruled field scientists ’ recommendation to retest an animal that was suspected of harboring mad-cow disease last year because they feared a positive finding would undermine confidence in the agency’s testing procedures, the department’s inspector general said Thursday.



After protests from the inspector general, the specimen was sent to England for retesting and produced the nation’s second confirmed case of the disease.



The incident was described in an audit report assessing the department’s surveillance program for mad-cow disease.



In a statement, USDA food safety administrator Barbara Masters said officials have taken steps to better enforce the rules and have reached agreement with the inspector general on most issues. “FSIS [Food Safety and Inspection Service ] is confident it is successfully carrying out its mission to protect public health by strictly enforcing safeguards,” she said.



The discovery of two cases of mad-cow disease in American animals caused many nations to ban American beef, but some have resumed shipments.



The most contentious negotiations have involved Japan, which used to be the largest importer of American beef.



The Japanese agreed last year to accept certain kinds of American beef, but then renewed the ban last month after a New York company shipped unapproved cuts of meat.



The report details why scientists at the National Veterinary Services Laboratories concluded that a sample from a Texas animal should be tested with other techniques after initial inconclusive findings.



It adds that top officials at the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service told them not to do the additional tests.



When officials from the inspector general’s office met with the head of the inspection service to discuss the issue, they were told that the protocol followed by the agency was the international “gold standard” and nothing more was needed, the report adds.



Nonetheless, the sample was later sent to England for a different set of tests, and was found to have the mad-cow infection.



The report also found that while there is no evidence that infected meat has made it into the human food chain, the USDA surveillance system did not collect the information needed to say whether slaughterhouses were following all mad-cow-related regulations.



In nine of 12 facilities visited, the report said, inadequate record keeping made it impossible to know whether proper procedures were being followed.



“As a result, should serious animal disease be detected in the United States, USDA’s ability to quickly determine and trace the source of infections to prevent the spread of disease could be impaired,” the report said.



Mad-cow disease is a degenerative nerve disease in cattle that, in rare cases, has been passed to humans, who develop a fatal brain disease called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
 

Econ101

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Somebody doesn't want somebody to look under the rug. BSE is just one of the rugs at the USDA. GIPSA is another. Nat. Animal ID another......... Theres a few more packers working at USDA than producers.
 

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