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Officials trying to determine if meat reached Montana


HELENA (AP) - State and federal officials were still trying to determine today how much, if any, meat from a Holstein diagnosed with mad cow disease reached Montana.

''We're trying to find out more this morning but haven't found out anything yet,'' Karen Cooper, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Livestock, said today.

Even after the weekend announcement by federal officials that some meat from the diseased cow in Washington state may have made it to Montana, some grocers in the state said beef products are still on the shelves and still selling well.

''We haven't heard much about it (from shoppers), and our beef sales have been good,'' Rob Munguia, a co-manager at Wal-Mart in Great Falls, said Monday.

Officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture said they initiated a recall of more than 10,000 pounds of meat from 20 cows, including the infected animal, slaughtered on the same day at the same Washington state facility. Agriculture officials said meat may have been distributed to eight states, including Montana.

Matt Baun, a spokesman for the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, said Monday over 80 percent of it went to Oregon and Washington. He said it's possible that meat involved did not even get to Montana.

''If it did, it's only going to be a small portion,'' he said.

Federal officials have repeated their confidence in the safety of the products and said the recall was a cautionary one.

Howard Reid, supervisor of the food and consumer safety section at the state Department of Public Health and Human Services, said: ''The human health risks associated with the meat products is slight to the point of almost being nonexistent.''

Baun said federal investigators were examining distribution records for the Washington state facility where the cow was slaughtered.

Kammy Johnson, an epidemiologist at Montana's Department of Public Health and Human Services, said today that she was unaware of any retailers in the state pulling beef from their shelves.


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