Top vet rushes to soothe mad cow fears
By Roberta Rampton
April 24, 2012
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Hours after confirming to reporters that the United States had found its fourth-ever case of mad cow disease, John Clifford was ready to answer the world’s questions about the safety of U.S. beef.
Clifford, the government’s chief veterinary officer at the agriculture department, had quickly called his counterparts in Mexico and Canada, the first and second-largest buyers of U.S. beef, to tell them about a California cow found to have an “atypical” type of the brain-wasting disease.
Having taken up his post in May 2004, just six months after the first U.S. case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy was discovered, he knows that sharing information quickly during the next 24 hours — and in the weeks ahead — will be vital for reassuring consumers, both domestic and foreign.
“It’s critically important for the trust and continuing of the trade between those countries,” Clifford said in an interview, trying to pre-empt concerns about the nation’s herd that could send the multi-billion U.S. industry into another tailspin.