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Since the discovery of a case of mad cow disease in Washington state last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has failed to take one of the most important steps needed to protect public health: greatly increasing the testing of animals at slaughter.
Mad cow disease (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) is one of a family of brain-wasting diseases that affect many mammals, including humans. It is invariably fatal. The human form, called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, is extremely rare. In Britain, however, there have been 103 confirmed deaths from the disease, apparently resulting from eating the meat of infected cows.
For years the USDA had only a small testing …