March 22, 2006—7:14 p.m. ET

Meatpacker Sparks Mad Cow Testing Fight

WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Kansas meatpacker has sparked an industry fight by proposing testing all the company's
cattle for mad cow disease.

Creekstone Farms Premium Beef wants to look for the disease in every animal it processes. The Agriculture
Department has said no. Creekstone says it intends to sue the department.

''Our customers, particularly our Asian customers, have requested it over and over again,'' chief executive John
Stewart said in an interview Wednesday. ''We feel strongly that if customers are asking for tested beef, we should
be allowed to provide that.''

Creekstone planned a news conference Thursday in Washington to discuss the lawsuit.

The department and larger meat companies oppose comprehensive testing, saying it cannot assure food safety.
Testing rarely detects the disease in younger animals, the source of most meat.

''There isn't any nation in the world that requires 100 percent testing,'' department spokesman Ed Loyd said

Larger companies worry that Japanese buyers would insist on costly testing and that a suspect result might scare
consumers away from eating beef.

Japan was the most lucrative foreign market for American beef until the first U.S. case of mad cow disease
prompted a ban in 2003. The ban cost Creekstone nearly one-third of its sales and led the company to slash
production and lay off about 150 people, Stewart said.

When Japan reopened its market late last year, Creekstone resumed shipments. Japan has halted shipments
again, after finding American veal cuts with backbone. These cuts are eaten in the U.S. but are banned in Japan.

Stewart said that when trade resumes with Japan, Creekstone is in a position to rehire the laid-off workers and
then some.

Creekstone would need government certification for its plan to test each animal at its Arkansas City, Kan., plant.
The department refused the license request in 2004.

The U.S. has been testing around 1 percent of the 35 million head of cattle slaughtered each year, although
officials have been planning to scale back that level of testing.

An industry official said the U.S. testing program should reassure customers inside and outside the United States.

''The U.S. risk of BSE is miniscule and declining, our proactive prevention strategies have worked and the safety of
American beef is assured,'' said J. Patrick Boyle, president of the American Meat Institute.

He was referring to the formal name for mad cow disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE.

While individual companies in Japan may want comprehensive testing, Japan's government is not asking for it.

Japan does have lingering questions about the shipment of prohibited veal, even after the U.S. sent a lengthy
report to Tokyo explaining the mistake was an isolated incident. The report blamed the company, Brooklyn-based
Atlantic Veal & Lamb, and a government inspector for misunderstanding new rules for selling beef to Japan.

Japan's agriculture minister, Shoichi Nakagawa, said Wednesday that further talks are needed.

''We do want to keep going back and forth with the U.S. over this issue,'' he said. ''We want the U.S. side to
squarely answer our questions.''

The Agriculture Department announced Wednesday evening it will send a team led by Acting Under Secretary
Chuck Lambert to Tokyo next week for talks.

The U.S. has had three cases of mad cow disease. The first appeared in December 2003 in a Washington state
cow that had been imported from Canada. The second was confirmed last June in a Texas-born cow, and the third
was confirmed last week in an Alabama cow.

Japan has had two dozen cases of BSE.
Mad cow disease is a brain-wasting ailment in cattle. In people, eating meat products contaminated with BSE is
linked to more than 150 deaths worldwide, mostly in Britain, from a deadly human nerve disorder, variant
Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease.

On the Net:

Creekstone Farms:
Agriculture Department:


March 23, 2006--2:17 p.m. ET

Reuters--Meatpacker sues US for right to do mad cow tests

By Charles Abbott
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Meatpacker John Stewart on Wednesday sued the U.S. government to provide it with
cattle testing kits so his Kansas company can prove to customers, especially in mad cow-leery Japan, that its beef
is safe.
Stewart's firm, Creekstone Farms Premium Beef LLC, wants to test all its slaughter cattle for mad cow disease. Its
suit in U.S. district court in Washington, DC, would force the Agriculture Department to give it access to test kits for
the brain-wasting disease.
The suit was applauded by consumer groups. But USDA, which convinced Japan to drop its own universal testing
program, opposes private testing of cattle. Mad cow incubates for years, USDA says, and "is not detected in young
animals," the bulk of the 35 million head of U.S. cattle slaughtered for meat each year.
Mad cow is always fatal in cattle. People can contract a deadly human version of the disease by eating
contaminated meats. No U.S.-origin cases are known.
USDA says its tests show a low incidence of mad cow disease, formally named bovine spongiform encephalopathy,
in America. Three cases have been found since December 2003.
Odds of finding a case through independent testing of young cattle are "very, very, very low," Stewart told
reporters. Creekstone wants to "provide an additional layer of confidence" to customers in markets like Japan by
doing the tests.
"I would not refer to it as a (marketing) gimmick," said Stewart, the founder and chief executive of Creekstone.
Creekstone filed suit while the United States was trying for the second time to persuade Japan to re-open its
borders to U.S. beef and while USDA was preparing to scale down its "surveillance" tests used to gauge U.S. levels
of mad-cow.
The Consumers Union, which has called for USDA to test all cattle over the age of 20 months for mad cow, said
Creekstone should be allowed to test for the disease.
"The fact of the matter is our food system is not fool-proof," said Urvashi Rangan, a senior scientist and policy
analyst for the consumer group. "There is plenty of room," she said, "for additional steps to be taken. Why not give
companies the right to do that?"
Critics in the cattle industry said Creekstone was trying to hijack food safety regulations for financial advantage.
The American Meat Institute, representing meatpackers, said BSE testing almost always is a government function
Public health is protected not by mad-cow tests, a USDA spokesman said, but by federal rules that ban the use of
cattle parts in cattle feed and require the removal from carcasses of older cattle the brains, spinal columns and
nervous tissue most at risk of carrying the infective agent for mad cow.
Japan banned U.S. beef for two years following the first U.S. case of mad cow. It resumed purchases in late 2005
under stringent rules and suspended trade on January 20 after finding forbidden spinal material in a shipment of
USDA said it would press for re-opening of trade during discussions next week on meat inspection rules but
Japanese officials say no meetings were scheduled. Japan has asked repeatedly how USDA will prevent more beef-
trade violations.
In its suit, Creekstone challenged USDA's use of a 1913 law to prevent access to rapid-screening tests for mad
cow. USDA does not allow private testing for BSE.
"Testing is not a food safety tool," said USDA spokesman Ed Loyd. "We are very confident the prevalence of the
disease in our herd is very low."
Since June 2004, USDA has tested roughly 660,000 cattle for mad cow, nearly all older animals and cattle with
possible symptoms. The enhanced surveillance tests found two of the three U.S. cases. Some $105 million was
allotted for the tests.
USDA has not suggested how many cattle would be tested under a "maintenance" program but it requested
enough money for 40,000 tests during the fiscal year opening October 1.
Based in Arkansas City, Kansas, Creekstone slaughters about 300,000 head of cattle a year, making it a
comparatively small packer.
© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.


March 23, 2006—11:00 p.m. ET

Reuters--Japan says US suit won't change beef trade rules
By Aya Takada

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa said on Friday beef trade rules between
Japan and the United States won't be affected by a lawsuit filed by a U.S. firm against the U.S. government over
mad cow testing.

Creekstone Farms Premium Beef LLC filed a suit earlier in the week against the U.S. Agriculture Department for
refusing to allow the Kansas company to voluntarily test its cattle for mad cow disease.

The company wants to test all its slaughter cattle for the fatal disease, formally known as bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE), so that it can prove to customers, especially in Japan, that its beef is safe.

In Japan all cattle slaughtered for food have been tested for BSE since October 2001 as a way of excluding
infected animals from the food chain. After the central government dropped its blanket testing policy last August,
all local governments have voluntarily continued universal testing to meet consumer demand.

Nakagawa said he understands Creekstone's eagerness to regain access to the Japanese market, which has been
shut to American beef since January 20 when Japanese inspectors discovered banned spinal material in a
shipment of U.S. veal.

The suspension came just a month after Japan partially lifted a two-year-old ban on U.S. beef imposed over mad
cow disease fears. Before the ban, Japan was the top importer of U.S. beef, buying 240,000 tonnes valued at $1.4
billion in 2003.

But Nakagawa added that Japan cannot give preferential treatment to the company as the Japanese and U.S.
governments have already set beef trade rules that do not require Washington to conduct universal testing on
slaughter cattle for BSE.

"We don't deny their efforts to adapt themselves to the Japanese system at a high cost, but how can we make
exceptions of them?" Nakagawa asked at a news conference.

Under the beef trade agreement between the two governments, U.S. companies must remove specified risk
materials that could spread mad cow disease, such as spinal cords, from cattle of all ages before the meat is
shipped to Japan. They also cannot export beef from animals older than 20 months.

USDA has opposed private BSE testing of cattle, saying it is too costly and cannot be justified scientifically.

But consumer groups in the United States and Japan have applauded the action by Creekstone and urged
Washington to allow the company to test all its cattle for mad cow disease.

"We hope this case will eventually force the U.S. government to tighten its rules over mad cow testing," said Hiroko
Mizuhara, secretary general of the Consumers Union of Japan.

Currently the USDA is drawing up plans to scale down its mad cow testing program that found two of the three U.S.
cases of the disease, including one this month.

To press for the reopening of the Japanese market to U.S. beef, USDA will send a technical team to Japan for a
meeting with Japanese counterparts next week. Nakagawa said the ministry has not yet set the date for a meeting
with USDA officials.

Nakagawa also said he wants USDA officials to fully answer Japanese questions about the veal shipment before
they move a step closer to a possible resumption of U.S. beef imports.

"I hope we can have a meaningful meeting to move us forward," Nakagawa told reporters.

Japan has said it could not allow imports to restart until Washington found the cause of the violation and took
measures to prevent a recurrence.

The Japanese government, under fire from opposition critics who say it lifted its initial ban too quickly under U.S.
pressure, is cautious about an early resumption of beef imports.
© Reuters 2006. All rights reserved.
Selected News Articles About the Filing of Creekstone Farms Premium Beef’s
Lawsuit To Force USDA To Allow Creekstone To Test its Cattle for Mad Cow
Disease (Russell Frye is the lead counsel in that case)