Meatpacker Plans To Sue Feds
An undated FBI missing persons poster provided by the FBI shows images of missing Charlotte Schilling and her 11 year-old son Owen. Two bodies were found at Lake Manawa State Park in western Iowa on Sunday, May 20, 2012, in woods about 400 yards from a boat ramp that runs into the Missouri River. It's unclear whether authorities suspect the bodies are those of 41-year-old Charlotte Schilling and her 10-year-old son, Owen, who have been missing from their home in Plattsmouth, Neb., since May 10. (AP Photo/FBI)
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 plans to hold 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, they say, 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 Wednesday.
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.
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