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BSE: USDA Starts Criminal Probe; GAO Looks At Feed Ban

In the wake of a letter from a House committee, USDA has begun a criminal probe into alleged falsification of records related to the health status of the BSE-positive cow in Washington State.

March 20, 2004

In the wake of a letter from a House committee, USDA has begun a criminal probe into alleged falsification of records related to the health status of the BSE-positive cow in Washington State. At the same time, the General Accounting Office (GAO) continues its look at FDA’s enforcement of the ruminant feed rule, and has interviewed feed and rendering experts at AFIA and the National Renderers Assn. (NRA).

The House Government Reform Committee several weeks ago sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman alleging the index cow in Washington State was not a nonambulatory animal as USDA had reported. Based on affidavits from three slaughterhouse employees supplied to the committee by the Government Accountability Project (GAP), the committee said if the charges are true, it brings into question USDA’s credibility in handling the BSE investigation.

Meanwhile GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, continued its study of FDA’s enforcement of the restricted use protein feed ban related to ruminants. Several Senators requested this study as an update to a 2002 GAO report that showed inconsistencies in enforcement and reporting. GAO acknowledged it is also studying how USDA handles meat recalls, particularly the recall in Washington State following discovery of the BSE-positive cow last Dec. 23. [Source: AFIA]

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