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Disease concerns by-pass McDuffie

While the rest of America remains spooked due to the recent discovery of a cow infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy -- commonly referred to as mad cow disease -- in Washington state, as of earlier this week, most McDuffie County meat sellers weren't reporting any kind of decline in their sales.


Meat Cutter George McCorkle cuts beef in the meat department at Bi-Lo in Thomson.
Jason B. Smith
"I don't think it's had any effect," said Mark Davis, Meat Department Manager at Winn-Dixie. "We've had some questions about it, but if (people) read and learn about it, they should know all about it."

Things at IGA were pretty much the same. Meat Department Manager Willie Mays said that he hadn't fielded any questions about BSE, and that meat sales were just fine.

At Bi-Lo, Meat Cutter George McCorkle, who's been at the store for 30 years, said that meat sales have dipped slightly since the announcement, but he didn't consider the drop drastic.

"It's slacked off some, but not really a lot. I don't see too much of a difference," he said. "I have fielded several questions about (BSE), but I don't think it's really a threat, and that's what I tell people here, because the Food and Drug Administration is really efficient with these types of things."

Thomson Packing Company Owner Warren Newsome said that sales have been consistent, and that his customers are still walking through his doors.

"I think people have confidence in where they buy, and I think our customers are confident that we are going to give them top trade and everything," he said. "We haven't noticed any decrease in sales or anything."

The calm at the local level may have something to do with the preparedness at the state level.

Lee Myers, State Veterinarian for the Department of Agriculture, said that the state of Georgia is taking a number of precautions to ensure that no contaminated meat reaches the open market.

"We have had an aggressive testing program for BSE over the last few years. We're quite proud that Georgia has tested more cattle than any other state in the southeast. Last year alone we submitted 1,600 samples for testing, and that represented 55 percent of the entire southeast's samples," she said.

Dr. Myers went on to say that the state is looking at expanding its testing so more cattle can be tested.

"We're taking a look at possibly testing those animals that go down on a farm or those that may go down in a livestock market," she said. "We're working with our state inspected meat facilities, the farming community, and the livestock market operators to make sure they're all aware of the new rules and how we're going to implement them."

Web posted on Thursday, January 8, 2004

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