WASHINGTON, May 27 (UPI) -- A U.S. Department of Agriculture official is considering an investigation into why the agency allowed the import of banned Canadian beef products.
USDA officials acknowledged last week that from September 2003 to April 2004, they had quietly allowed the importation of millions of pounds of processed Canadian beef products that had been banned due to concerns about mad cow disease.
David Gray, counsel to Office of Inspector General, told UPI the issue is being looked into, but at this point no decisions have been made whether to launch an investigation.
"We're evaluating what's been reported in the media regarding the importation of processed Canadian beef," Gray said.
If the OIG proceeds with an investigation, it would be the fourth involving mad cow disease-related issues since the first case of the deadly disease in U.S. herds was discovered in December.
The banned Canadian beef products, which included ground beef, hot dogs and sausage, had been prohibited by the USDA after a Canadian cow tested positive for mad cow disease in May 2003.