U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman says she’s confident her department is doing all it can to keep beef safe after the discovery of “Mad Cow” disease in the country. Veneman visited Ames Tuesday, and noted it was exactly three weeks since the announcement of the disease — also know as B-S-E. Veneman was asked if there’ll be increased testing of cattle.She says they’d announced even before the B-S-E outbreak that they would increase the testing from 20 to 40-thousand cattle. She says they’ll continue to evaluate the testing program. Veneman says they’ve also asked a panel of international experts to evaluate their process. She says one of the things they’ll be asked to do is evaluate the testing regimes, but she says from everything the scientists have told her, they well exceed international guidelines. Veneman says the cattle that are sick or injured are the ones being tested, and the ones that have generated a lot of questions. She says there are an estimated 400-thousand “deads and dyings” that never went into the food chain, and another 100-thousand “downer” cattle that would go into the food system. She says the downers will no longer go into the food chain, and they’re considering more testing of various kinds of cattle. Veneman says one new test may include older cattle that are not sick or injured. She says a testing regime is a sampling of the various populations that’re at risk, so they’ll look at how to put together the overall testing program. Veneman says overall at this point the U-S-D-A is doing all it can.She says they have not precluded other actions however. She says they’re working toward an animal I.D. program, they’ll get input from the international committee. In addition, she says the F-D-A is seriously considering additional actions with regard to how they enforce the feed ban. Veneman says more information should be coming out by the end of this month. Veneman was in Ames to announce that final funding for completion of the National Centers for Animal Health renovation will be included in the president’s upcoming budget recommendation.
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