Row over recall

Published: Saturday 31 July 2004

It has been alleged that a recent recall of tainted meat products in the us is shrouded in secrecy to protect the food industry at the expense of public health. The newspaper Spokesman-Review had filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the identities of over 580 distributors, restaurants and grocery stores that received 19 tonnes of tainted beef. Its request was turned down by the us Department of Agriculture (usda).

The particular consignment of the product was recalled after a Washington state cow tested positive for mad cow disease in December 2003. But by the time the test results were announced the meat from the single infected cow and others slaughtered that day -- which also became part of the recall -- had been mixed with meat from other cattle.

Eating mad cow meat can cause a fatal brain-wasting disease in humans. The usda, however, claims that the infected parts were removed before slaughter.

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