WASHINGTON, June 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. Agriculture Department is reported to have cleared an animal suspected of having mad cow disease after skipping a key test last year.
The agency said the cow was safe then, but now, seven months later, USDA admits the animal may have had the brain-wasting disease and has ordered a new battery of tests, the Houston Chronicle said Friday.
That reversal sent cattle prices falling this week and sparked new questions about the USDA's ability to protect the public while at the same time trying to promote U.S. agricultural interests.
"They don't go the extra mile," said Craig Culp, a spokesman for the Center for Food Safety in Washington. "They stop just short of it, cross their fingers and hope everything is OK."
Jim Rogers, a spokesman for USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, said the agency is reviewing its approach to mad cow cases.