Tue, Dec 30, 2003 - Page 6 News List

Mad cow's meat could have reached eight states in US


Meat from a Holstein sick with mad cow disease could have reached retail markets in eight US states and Guam, but still poses no health risk, US Agriculture Department officials say.

Kenneth Petersen, an Agriculture Department veterinarian, said Sunday that investigators have determined that some of the meat from the diseased dairy cow slaughtered on Dec. 9 in Washington state could have gone to Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana and Guam. Earlier, officials had said most of the meat went to Washington and Oregon, with lesser amounts to California and Nevada, for distribution to consumers.

"The recalled meat represents essentially zero risk to consumers," said Petersen, of the Agriculture Department's food safety agency.

He said the parts most likely to carry infection -- the brain, spinal cord and lower intestine -- were removed before the meat from the infected cow was cut and processed for human consumption.

Mad cow disease, officially called bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is a concern because humans who eat brain or spinal matter from an infected cow can develop a related brain-wasting illness, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. In Britain, 143 people died of it after an outbreak of mad cow in the 1980s.

Despite assurances that American beef is safe, Japan and more than two dozen countries have blocked US beef imports. Jordan and Lebanon joined the list on Sunday. US beef industry officials this week estimated they've lost 90 percent of their export market because of the bans.

Despite their assurances of food safety, federal officials have taken the precaution of recalling 4.5 tonnes of meat from the infected cow and from 19 other cows slaughtered Dec. 9 at Vern's Moses Lake Meat Company, in Moses Lake, Washington.

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