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Officials: State beef supply is still safe

By Staff
Jason Cannon , BNI News Service
MONTGOMERY – There is no need for Alabama carnivores to fear the quality of Alabama's beef, according to Alabama Agriculture Com-missioner Ron Sparks.
Sparks said the dairy cow that was discovered with mad cow disease in Washington was a good example of the inspection system at work.
"That is a prime example of the system working," Sparks said.
He said the inspection system was designed to catch cases like that and urged Alabama meat eaters to continue to eat their meat.
"The beef we have in Alabama is safe for consumption."
The infected cow discovered in Washington was considered a "downer" animal because she couldn't get up after giving birth. After she was sent to slaughter, rules require part of her to be sent for tests looking for mad cow disease.
Jerry Newby, president of the Alabama Farmers Federation, said the Washington case was "an isolated incident" that doesn't affect the safety of beef products.
"There's no reason to believe that any harmful or infected products from this animal made it to the retail market," Newby said. "The preliminary diagnosis of this isolated case … is evidence that the safety measures put in place by USDA and the beef industry are working."
Newby said his group is working with Dr. Tony Frazier, Alabama's veterinarian, and the USDA to assess the impact that the disease's discovery in Washington will have on Alabama beef producers.
The state has a $2 billion beef cattle industry and the Alabama Cattlemen's Association represents 12,500 farmers in the state.
Frazier said Alabama has been part of the national surveillance program for mad cow disease for several years and state inspectors have exceeded the number of tests recommended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but have discovered no positive cases.
There were 20,000 samples tested nationwide for mad cow disease and Frazier said that number would probably double this year