Mad cow disease discovered at a Hanford rendering plant


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It's been six years since Mad Cow Disease was discovered in the United States. Last week, officials at Baker Commodities in Hanford were performing random tests, when they came across some inconclusive results.

Then, on Tuesday, the USDA made it official: confirming that a carcass transported for rendering has a rare form of the disease not generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed.

Sarah Klein, a food safety attorney said, "USDA has not completed their investigation of this particular case. So we'll be watching carefully to see what they find. Obviously if it turns out that we have tainted feed, we will have a much larger problem on our hands."

Some fear the fallout, and the potential health risks could mirror what happened in Great Britain back in the 1990's, when there were tens of thousands of cases, and 150 deaths. But, local dairy farmers say they're not concerned.

Barbara Martin said, "My first initial reaction was like wow, food safety at its best. The things we learned from the past issues of BSE, we began testing for them and this was you know, located right there in front of our eyes."

Barbara Martin runs a 300-acre dairy farm in Lemoore. She and other industry experts say strict safety precautions have been in place for years to protect consumers. And they seem to be working.

Last year, there were 29 cases of Mad Cow Disease worldwide. In 1992, there were more than 37-thousand.

A National Cattlemen's Beef Association spokesperson said, "What this really is, is the result of a very active, very targeted and expansive surveillance program"

The USDA is now looking into where the cow came from.

As for Baker Commodities, they have since tested other carcasses, but have not found any more cases.

The companies' vice-president told Action News, he is confident this cow poses no threat to humans, and that it has been isolated.

Markings on the cow should tell investigators which dairy it came from.

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