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Questions on U.S. Beef Remain

from the New York Times (Registration Required)

About 50 countries, including Korea, Taiwan and Japan the last of which accounted for 36 percent of American beef exports closed their doors to American beef after the first confirmed case of mad cow disease was found in Moses Lake, Wash., in December 2003.

The circumstances of that first case, and the defensive reactions of the United States Department of Agriculture after its discovery, led to years of skepticism by American consumer groups and difficult negotiations with foreign countries over reopening their markets -- especially in Asia's wealthier countries, where consumers are used to demanding that their governments certify that imported food is safe.

Although the first infected cow was probably not a "downer" -- too diseased or crippled to walk -- it was part of a shipment of broken-down old dairy cows, and it became clear from press reports that some small slaughterhouses specialized in taking such borderline animals, which often had to be hoisted or winched out of their trucks on chains.

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