Despite reports of a new case of mad cow disease last week in Alabama, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announce its intention to cut back on testing done randomly every day.
USDA’s chief veterinarian says plans to reduce the number of tests from roughly 1,000 to an unannounced number more in line with other nations. However, the department’s latest budget proposal calls for a reduction of nearly 90 percent, a drop in the bucket when you consider the USDA has tested more than 650,000 animals for mad cow disease over the past 22 months.
Of course, beef lobbyists love the measure because they believe higher safeguards aren’t cost-effective or necessary. The Consumers Union argues, rightly, roughly 40,000 mad cow tests a year amount to no more than a raindrop in a hurricane: One-tenth of a percent of all animals slaughtered in America.