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A Sane Ruling on Mad Cow Testing

04 September 2008

US - A Court of Appeals ruling that bars a Kansas meatpacker from testing all its animals for mad cow disease - an expensive step major meatpackers resist - sounds like yet another industry victory that sacrifices the public interest to private interests. In this case, though, there's a twist.

The test in dispute is not likely to detect the disease in most cattle slaughtered in the U.S. -- even if the animals are infected.

Despite that drawback, the industry fears that if some U.S. companies test all carcasses for the disease, the rest will be compelled to follow suit or risk the public perception that their meat is less safe. Big meatpacking plants are right to try to avoid testing that likely would raise prices for consumers without making the product safer.

Still, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's testing ban is too heavy-handed.

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