Monday, March 15, 2004

U.S. to Boost Testing for Mad Cow Up to Twelve-Fold

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will increase the number of cattle it tests for mad cow disease by up to twelve-fold to help restore confidence in the safety of the beef supply. As many cattle as possible from among an estimated population of 446,000 high-risk animals, including those too sick to walk, will be tested, Ron DeHaven, the department's chief veterinarian, said in a conference call. A random sampling of 20,000 otherwise healthy cattle older than 30 months will also be tested. The U.S. now tests about 38,000 head of cattle a year. The testing program will be funded by a $70 million transfer from the department's Commodity Credit Corporation, Veneman said. DeHaven said licenses to sell tests will be issued ``in a short period of time.''....

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