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The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it will test more than 220,000 cows for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), better known as mad cow disease, this year.

This is more than 10 times the 20,000 cows tested last year. USDA had already announced that some 40,000 cows would be tested this year, with plans to eventually increase that to about 120,000 cows a year - but now has decided that even broader testing is called for.

Mad cow testing became an issue when the first case of mad cow disease in the US was identified late last year.

The testing will focus on some 200,000 animals considered to be high-risk for the brain wasting disease, as well as on about 20,000 cows chosen at random.

The United States slaughters a total of about 36 million cattle a year. In France, they test about half of the six million cattle that are slaughtered; in Japan, they test every one of the 1.3 million cows eaten by the public.
KC's View:
This has the vague feeling of a test balloon. If the numbers reassure the public and global trading partners, then the number will stay at 220,000. But if it doesn't assuage consumers, it'll be increased to 300,000 or 400,000 or 500,000.