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Mad cow meat sent to 42 additional locales

(Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Steve Mitchell, UPI, 12/29/03: WASHINGTON -- An Oregon woman said Monday she unwittingly consumed some of the recalled beef that may have contained meat from the mad cow detected in Washington earlier this month, as federal officials announced the questionable meat had been sent to 42 more facilities than previously announced.

In addition, eight more Canadian cows apparently came into the United States in 2001 with the 74 that contained the cow in Mabton, Wash., that tested positive for mad cow on Dec. 23, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a news briefing Monday.

"The additional eight (cows) came on a subsequent shipment," USDA's chief veterinary officer Ron DeHaven said.

"We don't know at this point where those animals are," DeHaven said. "It's our understanding all of them did come into the state of Washington," he said, adding that authorities are currently trying to locate their whereabouts.

The woman, who lives in Williams, Ore., told United Press International the meat was purchased and consumed before the mad cow case or the recall was announced.

She declined to give her name because her family has business contacts with many ranchers but said she purchased the meat in Murphy, Ore., on Dec. 20 and she and her husband ate it the next day. The mad cow case was not announced until Dec. 23 and the recall was not initiated until Dec. 24.

The USDA recalled 10,000 pounds of beef that may have contained meat from the Holstein cow in Mabton. The agency said Sunday the meat went to Guam and eight states -- California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho and Montana.

Officials expanded the distribution on Monday to say it had reached 42 additional facilities.

The vast majority of the additional product -- at least 80 percent -- was distributed to the states of Oregon and Washington, said Kenneth Petersen of USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

USDA officials said the recall was initiated out of an abundance of caution and the meat probably did not pose a risk to consumers because the most infectious parts of the animal -- the brain, spinal cord and lower intestines -- had been removed.

The watchdog group Public Citizen, however, warns consumers to avoid certain cuts of meat because they can contain nervous tissue, such as the brain and spinal cord. These cuts of meat include beef cheeks, neck bones, T-bone steaks and any meat that comes from the head or spinal column.

Public Citizen also advises consumers to avoid ground beef, hog dogs, salami and bologna because they are sometimes made from meat processed by advanced meat recovery machines that can contaminate the meat with nervous tissue.

USDA's Petersen said AMR machines were not used to process any of the recalled beef.

Dalton Hobbs, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Agriculture, told UPI, "There's a good likelihood that people have consumed some of this recalled product" because much of the meat was turned into ground meat, which is typically consumed shortly after purchasing. The infected cow was slaughtered on Dec. 9 and distributed to commercial establishments a few days after that.

The Oregon Department of Agriculture has received calls from consumers worried about whether they consumed some of the recalled beef. But Hobbs said his department cannot confirm whether the consumed beef was subject to the recall because the USDA has not provided state officials with a list of retailers or products involved.

The recall came from the federal level and is being "managed and overseen by the USDA," Hobbs said. "We wouldn't really have any role in that unless asked by the USDA to assist and we have not been asked by them to assist," he said.

So far, the large supermarket chains of Albertson's, Safeway, WinCo and Fred Meyer are known to have received some of the recalled beef, Hobbs said. Some smaller stores, so-called "mom and pop shops," also may have received the beef, he said.