Printer Friendly

Senator questions USDA's mad cow testing, surveillance program.

Citing what he calls "inconsistencies and shifting policies," Senate Agriculture Committee ranking member Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) is calling on Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns to "investigate recent testing mishaps and develop a consistent and transparent approach for BSE testing and surveillance," according to a statement issued by Harkin's office.

In a lengthy and detailed letter to Johanns, Harkin says it is critical to get to the bottom of how recently disclosed problems with the system came about and to "ensure that similar lapses do not occur in the future. Confidence in USDA's anti-BSE measures is absolutely critical to maintaining consumer confidence in beef, protecting U.S. cattle herds and reopening closed markets." Harkin outlined several issues that he says need to be addressed, including:

* USDA should not limit its cooperation and responsiveness with the inspector general's office due to disagreements over the handling of the retested sample.

* Steps need to be taken to resolve problems with USDA's sampling methods for testing high-risk cattle, which Harkin says are "questionable."

* Despite repeated promises by USDA to test 20,000 normal, aged cattle as part of its expanded surveillance system, USDA has decided not to test this subpopulation of cattle but has not informed the public or justified the decision.

* USDA is moving at a slow pace towards implementing a national animal identification system, despite its commitment to expedite this process.

"USDA needs to correct the problems in its testing and surveillance program and be forthright with the public when policies change." Harkin says. "I urge the secretary take the necessary steps to ensure confidence in America's BSE surveillance and prevention systems." The senator says he believes "there is a limit to how much of its own errors, inconsistencies and lack of transparency USDA can reasonably expect consumers to abide and still have confidence in the safety of [U.S.] beef."
COPYRIGHT 2005 Informa Economics, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:United States. Department of Agriculture
Publication:Food & Drink Weekly
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 18, 2005
Previous Article:Grey Eagle Distributors Inc.
Next Article:Codex amends food standards and creates antimicrobial resistance taskforce.

Related Articles
Cattle call.
FAO says better controls and surveillance needed to protect consumers from BSE.
Where's the beef safety regulation? BSE becomes political hot potato: one sick cow has government and industry rushing to implement damage control....
Committee questions USDA's handling of BSE case.
NCBA wants USDA to deny request for 100% BSE testing.
Increased BSE tests may reveal additional cases.
Latest Canadian BSE discovery puts border opening in jeopardy.
USDA confirms positive BSE test on Alabama cow.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters