Mad cow safety and Japan
Japan just announced that they are lifting the ban on meat from the USA, the question is, why do it now since our government just said there will be less inspections of meat in the future.
U.S. Agriculture Department reduces testing for mad cow disease
WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. Agriculture Department is moving forward with a plan to reduce the number of tests for mad cow disease.
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns plans to announce Thursday a new level of testing for mad cow disease. Johanns said there is little justification for the current level, which rose to about 1,000 tests a day after the first U.S. case of mad cow disease in 2003.
It cost an estimated $1 million a week to perform the tests on about one per cent of the 35 million cattle slaughtered last year in the United States.
Before that first U.S. case, the department was testing about 55 samples daily. Officials have said international guidelines set by the World Organization for Animal Health would call for the United States to perform about 110 tests a day.
The United States has had three confirmed cases of mad cow disease: in December 2003, in a Washington state cow that had been imported from Canada; last June, in a Texas-born cow and in March, in an Alabama cow.
In April, Johanns released a department analysis of testing data, saying the prevalence of mad cow disease "is extraordinarily low." There are probably four to seven undetected cases of the disease in the U.S., the analysis concluded.
At the time, Johanns said testing probably would be scaled back after a panel of independent scientists reviewed the testing data.
On Wednesday, department spokesman Ed Loyd said the review had been completed.
The brain-wasting disorder infected more than 180,000 cows and was blamed for more than 150 human deaths during a European outbreak that peaked in 1993.
Humans can contract a related disease, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, by eating meat contaminated with mad cow, which is medically known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE.
© The Canadian Press, 2006
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