USDA announces reduced mad cow testing

July 20, 2006 at 4:25 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 20 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Thursday it will soon reduce its testing for bovine spongiform encephalopathy -- mad cow disease.

Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said his department will change to an ongoing BSE surveillance program that reflects the extremely low prevalence of the disease in the United States.

"It's time that our surveillance efforts reflect what we now know is a very, very low level of BSE in the United States," said Johanns. "This ongoing surveillance program will maintain our ability to detect BSE, provide assurance that our interlocking safeguards are successfully preventing BSE, while continuing to exceed science-based international guidelines."

The new testing program will sample approximately 40,000 animals each year, as compared with the more than 759,000 cattle tested since June 2004 when enhanced testing started.

In April, the Department of Agriculture released an analysis of seven years of its BSE surveillance data, concluding the prevalence of BSE in the United States is less than one case per million adult cattle.

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