Creekstone Farms Premium Beef, LLC, filed a lawsuit against USDA in March that challenges USDA's decision to prevent Creekstone's voluntary testing of cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.
Creekstone is challenging USDAâ€™s claim that it has the legal authority to control access to and the use of the â€œtest kitsâ€ needed to perform BSE testing. Over the past two years, USDA has repeatedly denied Creekstoneâ€™s requests to conduct voluntary BSE testing from its packing plant in Arkansas City. Creekstone Farms has publicly stated that it believes U.S. beef is safe; nevertheless, Creekstoneâ€™s customers â€“ and other beef consumers around the world - want beef from BSE tested cattle, according to Creekstone. For example, a December 2005 poll by the Kyodo News Service found that more than half of Japanese consumers want U.S. beef to be tested for BSE.
â€œWe produce the highest quality beef available in America in our state-of-the art processing facility. Our customers support our brand for the many points of difference we provide," says John Stewart, chief executive officer and founder of Creekstone Farms.
"If BSE testing is an additional attribute that our customers want, free enterprise should allow us to provide this additional element. In a country where free enterprise, satisfying consumers, and building businesses through thoughtful marketing and innovation are encouraged, I find it very difficult to understand why our government would not be supportive of this important effort," Stewart says.