The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced today that it will now wait until the second and third concurrent rapid tests are conducted before declaring a test sample inconclusive. Only if one of these tests is reactive will APHIS announce the result as an inconclusive, at which point a confirmatory test will be conducted at National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa.
This protocol is consistent with manufacturer's instructions, which state that a sample is inconclusive for BSE if either of a set of duplicate tests conducted after the first rapid test is reactive. At that point an immunohistochemistry (IHC) test - the gold standard test for BSE - is performed.
"We suggested this change to USDA, and support their action," says National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) President Jan Lyons, a beef producer from Manhattan, Kan. "Their move should help protect our industry by maintaining consumer confidence and reducing market volatility."
According to APHIS Chief Veterinarian John Clifford, APHIS has completed proficiency testing of all BSE labs, including reviewing data from the first 60 days of testing. Its protocol change is based on this review. Rapid tests on more than 28,000 samples have been conducted since June 1.