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From: TSS ()
Subject: Feds probing claims of mad cow violations (SRMs still in food chain)
Date: May 6, 2005 at 1:03 pm PST

Feds probing claims of mad cow violations

Washington, DC, May. 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. Agriculture Department's Inspector General is looking into claims mad cow safeguards were breached and risky materials entered the food supply.

Stanley Painter, chairman of the National Joint Council of Food Inspection Locals, told United Press International he was interviewed by the USDA's Office of Inspector General for four hours on March 9 regarding allegations he raised last December.

Another involved party who requested anonymity also told UPI they were interviewed by OIG agents recently.

Painter said he had been informed other USDA meat inspectors were aware of cases where employees of meatpacking plants failed to ensure specified risk materials or SRMs -- such as brains and spinal cords -- from cows over 30 months old did not enter the nation's food supply.

SRMs from older cows are considered most risky for transmitting the mad cow pathogen to people. The USDA banned the materials in the wake of the first U.S. case of mad cow in 2003.

USDA spokesman Steven Cohen said the agency looked into Painter's claims and found nothing to substantiate them.


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