On Wednesday, USDA announced that further testing on the animal that resulted in the first inconclusive test last Friday was negative for BSE.

“At approximately, 3:45 p.m. today, we were notified by the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa that the inconclusive screening test sample reported on June 25, tested negative for BSE upon confirmatory testing,” said Deputy Administrator John Clifford with APHIS in a press conference. “NVSL used the world-recognized gold-standard test for BSE, the immunohistochemistry test to confirm this finding.”

When asked why USDA is releasing preliminary screening results to the public, Dr. Clifford replied that the agency wants to remain as transparent as possible with the public and the media. With the test and hold policy in place on carcasses, there is no chance that these animals failing the first screening will enter the food supply.

“As part of USDA's expanded BSE surveillance program, a rapid screening test is used as the first step in a two-part testing process,” points out Jan Lyons, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association president and cattle producer from Kansas. “USDA expected some inconclusive results from this initial step. Because the rapid tests are sensitive, they are subject to occasional inconclusive results that later prove to be negative.

“It is a little like going through the airport metal detector. We all have had the detector beep on us at least once, but it didn't mean we were carrying a prohibited item. It simply meant more testing was needed.”

Coincidentally this week, representatives from Japan are visiting the United States to tour feedyards and packing plants to gain better understanding of the firewalls that are in place in this country to prevent and contain BSE. In the press conference, Dr. Clifford felt that these inclusive results were not alarming to the Japanese delegation but rather expected since Japan’s BSE testing program results in a number of inconclusive tests.