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The Washington Post reports that US Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspectors have identified “more than 1,000 violations of rules aimed at preventing mad cow disease from reaching humans,” though no contaminated meat actually got into the food chain.

The rules, according to the Post, “require that brains, spinal cords and other nerve parts -- which can carry mad cow disease – be removed when older cows are slaughtered. The at-risk tissues are removed from cows older than 30 months because infection levels are believed to rise with age.” But USDA found 1,036 cases in which slaughterhouses or beef processors did not follow the rules.

The regulations were put into effect in December 2003 after the first case of mad cow disease was identified in the US. The violations took place over a 17-month period that ended in May 2005.

"The truth is that these very low numbers ... demonstrate a remarkable level of compliance with federal regulations exceeding 99.9 percent," Jim Hodges, president of the American Meat Institute Foundation, told the Post.

While USDA emphasized that the violations did not lead to any public health problems, the agency only released the figures because of requests made by various groups under the Freedom of Information Act.
KC's View:
The immediate problem isn’t whether a public health crisis exists. The problem is that the government seems to only tell the public what it chooses to, and will admit the truth only under duress. They seem to think that not being up front with the citizenry increases the public trust, but we believe that ultimately it erodes this trust – in government and, in this case, in the safety of the food supply.