GUAM, HAWAII FREE OF TAINTED BEEF

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By Oyaol Ngirairikl and Frank Oliveri

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, Jan. 2) - You can load up your barbecue grill and chow down on the beef kelaguen without worrying about mad cow disease.

Robert Larew, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service in Washington, D.C., said by phone yesterday inspectors have determined that none of the recently recalled beef had been sent to Guam or Hawaii.

The government ordered a recall of about 10,000 pounds of beef from other areas in connection with the Dec. 23 discovery that the cow had bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. USDA officials had said several days ago that Guam and nine states might have received some of the questionable meat.

"Our investigation has determined that the product associated with the recall did not reach Guam or Hawaii," Larew said yesterday.

Delegate Madeleine Bordallo also announced that Guam did not receive any meat from an animal that had mad cow disease before it was slaughtered in Washington state.

Bordallo said she consulted officials from the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Services and found that Guam received no meat from Vern's Moses Lake Meats, a slaughterhouse in Moses Lake, Wash., where the ill cow's meat was processed.

''It is now clear that no products under the recall of meat were sent to Guam,'' Bordallo said.

Washington and Oregon were believed to have received about 80 percent of the cow's meat. Humans who eat BSE-contaminated tissue are at risk of contracting a fatal brain disease.

But there is only a small chance that the recalled meat was affected by BSE. The parts of cows that carry the disease -- the brain, spine and part of the intestines -- are not processed for human consumption, USDA officials said.

Ron DeHaven, chief veterinarian for the USDA, said the recall and other responses to the Dec. 23 BSE discovery are designed to ensure consumer confidence in U.S. meats. He said the U.S. food supply is safe and the system in place to prevent bad meat from entering the food supply is working.

As a precaution, the USDA announced Tuesday it is banning meat from infirm -- or ''downed'' -- animals because of the higher chance those animals suffered from BSE.

Bordallo said the government's swift response should allow consumers to buy American beef with confidence.

January 2, 2004

Pacific Daily News: www.guampdn.com

 

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