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Prions found in sheep muscle

According to a new study published in the science journal, Nature, researchers have found misshapen proteins called "prions" in the muscles of sheep. Prions are believed to cause scrapies in sheep and mad cow disease in cattle. Prior to this discovery, prions were thought to accumulate in the brains and nervous tissue of animals, but not in their muscles.

Presently, the USDA requires that processors remove the brain and nervous tissue of cattle, but has declared that the rest of the meat is safe to eat. Dr. Paul Brown, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health who has spent decades researching prions, made the following statement to a New York Times reporter: "Within the next year, somebody will make a big splash by finding it [prions] in the muscle of cattle, and the beef industry will go crazy."

(Nature Magazine, May 23, 2004. The New York Times, May 24, 2004, page A16.)

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