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From: TSS ()
Subject: U.S. may have concealed BSE test results
Date: June 26, 2005 at 8:34 pm PST

U.S. may have concealed BSE test results

Eiji Hirose / Yomiuri Shimbun Correspondent

In his Friday announcement of the confirmation of the second case of mad cow disease in the United States, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said an experimental test run along with the second standard test in late November showed "abnormalities" with the cow.

The announcement suggests the Agriculture Department may have hidden an important discovery for seven months.

The concealment of the discovery of abnormalities that suggested possible bovine spongiform encephalopathy infection has raised concerns among U.S. consumers.

It could also affect Japan's ongoing debate over the resumption of beef imports from the United States.

The cow in the latest case first tested positive for BSE in a preliminary testing in mid November, but tested negative later that month under a more detailed immunohistochemistry (IHC) test.

The cow then tested positive earlier this month using the Western blot method.

According to Johanns, an experimental test conducted along with the IHC test in late November showed "abnormalities," indicating the cow might have been infected with BSE.

Asked why the department did not immediately disclose the result of the experimental test, department officials said the IHC test was already over as a formal test and the experimental test was an informal one for research purposes.

But if the Western blot test had been implemented as an additional confirmatory test in immediate response to the result of this experimental test, the confirmation of the second U.S. case of mad cow disease would have happened seven months ago.


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