Administration Will Fight Voluntary BSE Testing

USDA is appealing a federal judge's decision that producers must be allowed to test their cattle for BSE.

The Bush administration said today it will fight to keep meatpackers from testing all their animals for bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

The Agriculture Department tests less than one percent of slaughtered cows for the disease, which can be fatal to humans who eat tainted beef. But Kansas-based Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all of its cows.

Larger meat companies feared that move because, if Creekstone tested its meat and advertised it as safe, they might have to perform the expensive test, too.

A federal judge ruled in March that such tests must be allowed. The ruling was to take effect June First, but the Agriculture Department said today it would appeal - effectively delaying the testing until the court challenge plays out.

There have been three cases of mad cow disease in the US. The first, in December 2003 in Washington state, was in a cow that had been imported from Canada. The second, in 2005, was in a cow born in Texas, the nation's largest cattle-producing state.

Source: Associated Press

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