(WASHINGTON, D.C) – Late yesterday, the Secretary of Agriculture announced the discovery of Mad Cow disease in Washington state. The afflicted cow was what's known as a 'downed animal.'
Downed animals are livestock that can not stand or walk on their own – a symptom of mad cow and other serious illness.
Earlier this year, Senator Murray supported Senate legislation to ban the meat of downed animals from entering the human food supply.
The Senate-passed measure was stripped out of the 2004 Omnibus Appropriations bill due to objections by members of the House of Representatives.
"We have already begun to see the impact of yesterday's announcement on consumer confidence and on our markets," Sen. Murray said. "Congress must act quickly to enact strong legislation to protect consumers and producers from the fear of tainted meat."
Tens of thousands of downed animals are marketed for human consumption in the United States every year. A food inspection study conducted in Germany in 2001 found that mad cow disease is present in a higher percentage of downed livestock than in the general cattle population.
Currently, the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) diverts downed livestock exhibiting symptoms associated with Mad Cow and other disease for testing before allowing them to be processed for human consumption.
Although USDA has increased the number of downed cattle tested for Mad Cow, it still represents less than one percent of the industry that is tested.
"Allowing the meat of sick animals to enter our food supply poses too high a risk for both consumers and producers," Murray said. "Congress must work together work to ensure the safety of our residents and the strength of our economy."