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Pressure continues for private BSE testing.

A coalition representing several segments of the U.S. beef industry is urging Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman to have USDA reconsider its decision to deny requests by two meatpackers to be permitted to test the cattle they process for BSE. In addition to Creekstone Farms Premium Beef and Gateway Beef Cooperative--the two packers whose requests were denied--the coalition consists of R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America, Costco Wholesale Corp. and the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group, a group of 11 steakhouses located throughout the United States.

In a letter to Veneman, the coalition notes that "USDA has failed to reopen most export markets for beef, despite over six months of negotiations, and rather than opposing Creekstone and Gateway, your agency should be working with beef processors to help them establish standards for voluntary BSE-testing that respond to the demands of their customers." The letter suggests that USDA could oversee voluntary BSE-testing in a manner similar to its certification program for beef produced without hormones, "a program established by USDA to enable U.S. producers to meet the product requirements of the European Union, despite the absence of any scientific justification for such a program."

The letter closes by asking Veneman to establish a definite timeline for resolution of both the voluntary BSE-testing issue, as well as a definite timeline for negotiations with Japan, Korea and Taiwan to reopen exports of U.S. beef without BSE-testing requirements. If Asian markets are not reopened to U.S. beef, the coalition requests that USDA allow Creekstone, Gateway and others to begin voluntary testing by Oct. 1. USDA is reviewing the letter.
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Title Annotation:Bovine spongiform encephalopathy
Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 9, 2004
Words:266
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