Washington Government and beef industry officials urged consumers Saturday not to worry about the safety of meat as they await conclusive results of tests to determine whether the United States has a new case of mad cow disease.
State-level agriculture officials, meanwhile, wondered whether the animal detected in preliminary tests was from their areas. Until more exacting tests are done, the Agriculture Department would not identify the animal, the state it came from or the facility in which it was killed. The follow-up process could take four to seven days, the department said.
A screening test designed to give rapid results had indicated the animal had mad cow, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. Such tests cannot confirm whether the animal truly had the brain-wasting disease, so the department labels the results inconclusive.
The more exacting tests were being done at the department's National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa, which diagnosed in December the nation's only confirmed case of BSE, in a Washington state Holstein.
The Department of Agriculture remains confident in the safety of food in the United States, said Dr. John Clifford, deputy administrator of the department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Meat from the animal did not enter the human food supply or livestock feed, he said.