Feds probing alleged mad cow cover-up

May 2, 2005 at 3:26 PM
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WASHINGTON, May 2 (UPI) -- Federal investigators are looking into allegations by a former U.S. Agriculture Department inspector the agency sought to cover up cases of mad cow disease.

Lester Friedlander, a former USDA veterinarian, told United Press International he has been questioned by representatives from the USDA's Office of Inspector General, who were investigating statements he made before Canada's Parliament in April.

"I told them I think there's a cover-up," said Friedlander, a 10-year veteran of the USDA who received official praise and recognition for outstanding performance during his tenure with the agency.

Friedlander's claims include that a USDA official told him in 1991 not to say anything if he ever discovered a case of mad cow disease, and that he knew of cows that had tested positive at private laboratories but were ruled negative by the USDA.

Paul Feeney, OIG's deputy counsel, said the agency had no comment regarding Friedlander's allegations, but he noted the OIG is conducting an audit of USDA's surveillance plan for mad cow disease, which includes collecting information from "any individuals who may have substantive information about (mad cow)-testing issues."

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