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April 25th, 2012
10:30 PM ET

Controversy over mad cow disease testing

The first U.S. case of mad cow disease in six years was detected in California. Anderson asked  Dr. Sanjay Gupta about the cause of the condition. Gupta said "it's pretty hard" to spread mad cow disease, even among cattle. "Likely it's spread by cows eating body parts of other cows," he said. "Specifically the body parts are the central nervous system body parts."

Elise Odabashian from Consumers Union believes it's not an isolated incident. When talking about the procedure and sample size, she told Anderson, "The USDA tests only about 40,000 of  35 million cows killed ever year. That's just a tiny fraction . So they're not looking very hard for mad cow disease, and so they're not finding it very often."

Odabashian thinks there should be more testing, but she also suggests an alternative method for surveillance. "There are private companies who want to spend their own money to test their own beef so they can sell their beef to other countries that have said they didn't want to buy U.S. beef. Those companies in the United States that want to test their own meat have been prohibited from doing so by the USDA" she said.

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Filed under: Mad cow disease • Medical News