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The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has expanded its testing of cattle in this country for mad cow disease, six months after the first case of the malady on US soil was identified in Washington State.

USDA plans to test about 220,000 animals over the next 12-18 months, far more than the 20,543 that were tested last year. Initially, USDA planned to test 40,000 cows in 2004, but has upped the number because of concerns abroad that the US wasn’t doing enough to safeguard its cattle.

However, while countries like Japan test all of their cattle for mad cow, the US continues to test a tiny percentage of its cows – 220,000 out of some 35 million cattle that are slaughtered in the US each year. The majority of the tests will be done on cows showing some symptoms of a brain disorder, though reportedly as many as 20,000 apparently healthy cows also will be tested just to be sure.
KC's View:
We’re sure that 220,000 isn’t going to assuage countries that think the US is doing too little too late. And if another case of mad cow disease pops up – or, perhaps we should say “when” a new case of mad cow pops up – the puny nature of the 220,000 cows will be quite evident.