Senator questions USDA's mad cow policies

Jan. 11, 2005 at 5:18 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- U.S. Agriculture officials have agreed to meet with a senator's staff about alleged violations of mad cow disease safeguards, UPI has learned.

"We requested a meeting and (USDA officials) are going to be meeting with us next Tuesday," said Joe Shoemaker, a spokesman for Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill.

USDA spokesman Steven Cohen could not confirm the meeting and said he would check on it.

Durbin sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman Dec. 22, requesting USDA officials address allegations made by meat inspectors that cow brains and other materials that could carry mad cow disease might be going into the food supply.

"This latest report makes me concerned that this administration's commitment to controlling the threat of (mad cow) is inadequate," Durbin wrote in the letter, obtained by UPI.

Durbin noted he also wrote the Food and Drug Administration, asking the agency to comply with a Government Accountability Office investigation to determine how well a ban on cattle tissue in cow feed has been enforced. The ban is intended to prevent the spread of mad cow. The FDA had not provided the GAO with data about possible feed-ban violations, Durbin wrote.

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