Government Bans `Downer' Cows from Food Supply

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Obama administration is permanently banning the slaughter of "downer cows" as it works to keep mad cow disease from entering the food supply.

The cows, which are too sick or weak to stand on their own, were at the center of the nation's biggest beef recall last year at a Chino, Calif., slaughterhouse. President Barack Obama announced during his Internet and radio address this morning plans to finalize the ban the Agricultural Department had proposed.

The cows pose a higher risk of mad cow disease and are susceptible to E. coli, because they wallow in feces.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says the ban is "a step forward for both food safety and the standards for humane treatment of animals."

The Humane Society videotaped workers at the Chino beef plant abusing downer cows to force them to slaughter. The group says the
government's decision will put a stop to "inhumane and reckless practice" of abusing downer cows.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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