Meatpacker to Sue for Right to Test Meat
By George Anderson
Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to test all the cows it processes for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease. There is one problem, however. The U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) has said no.
As a result of the USDA’s action, Creekstone is suing the Department for the right to test its beef.
John Stewart, chief executive officer of Creekstone Farms, told The Associated Press, “Our customers, particularly our Asian customers, have requested it over and over again. We feel strongly that if customers are asking for tested beef, we should be allowed to provide that.”
The government’s position is that the testing is not necessary while other packers are concerned what demands for more testing will do to their costs.
A spokesperson for the USDA, Ed Loyd, said, “There isn’t any nation in the world that requires 100 percent testing.”
J. Patrick Boyle, president of the American Meat Institute, said, “The U.S. risk of BSE is miniscule and declining, our proactive prevention strategies have worked and the safety of American beef is assured.”
Currently, about one percent of all beef slaughtered in the U.S. is tested for BSE. The government recently announced plans to scale that back even further.
Moderator’s Comment: Should companies such as Creekstone Farms be allowed to exceed federal testing requirements for BSE or other factors if it chooses
to do so? What impact would giving Creekstone Farms approval to test all its cattle have on domestic and export markets for beef? –
George Anderson – Moderator