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Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, said yesterday that it has “called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take new measures to detect and prevent mad cow disease in U.S. beef and dairy cows, in light of USDA's announcement last week of a new case in a California dairy cow.”

The consumer advocate group said it has sent letters to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg saying that the new discovery is a warning flag, and that the government out to be testing far more than the 45,000 cows that it currently does - out of 35 million cattle slaughtered in the US each year. Consumers Union would like to see the testing sample raised to 400,000 annually.

“It is essential that USDA conduct a thorough investigation of this case, including testing of all of the infected cow’s offspring, and all cows that may ever have consumed the same feed, including current herd mates,” stated Dr. Michael Hansen, a senior scientist with Consumers Union, and an expert on BSE.

Consumers Union also called on FDA to ban certain materials in cattle feed that could potentially transmit mad cow disease; to prohibit all cattle brain and other high-risk material in animal feed, including pet food, since these are the tissues most likely to harbor the infectious mad cow agent; and to prohibit the use of cow blood in milk replacer for weaning calves, noting that blood transfusions are a known means of transmitting BSE infections.
KC's View:
I’m not smart enough to understand all this stuff, but testing 400,000 cows seems reasonable to me, and a lot safer than just testing 40,000.