Issue Date: April 5, 2004
USDA certifies seven labs to do mad cow tests
The USDA Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service has announced the approval of seven state laboratories, located throughout the U.S., to do rapid testing of cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease. Previously, only the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, was certified by the government to test for BSE. USDA says the addition of the testing labs responds to an international scientific review panel study that recommended much more testing of U.S. cattle to assure the public that beef is safe to eat. The newly designated laboratories will use the recently approved rapid test for BSE (C&EN, March 29, page 9), an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay that is used in much of the rest of the world. Confirmation testing for BSE will still be done at Ames with a slower immunohistochemistry assay, which requires about five days for results. Other labs may be certified to analyze BSE surveillance samples in the future. More information on the BSE program is available on the Web at http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/issues/bse/bse.html.
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