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USDA investigating veal violations

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investigating the use of illegal growth hormones in veal calves. Allegedly, the problem was uncovered when a USDA inspector in Wisconsin discovered a growth hormone pellets in the ear of a veal calf carcass.

Last Friday, the USDA instructed its veterinarians to immediately remove from the food chain any calves showing signs of such adulteration.

"We consider this an illegal activity. It's against our law to give animals drugs that are not approved for them," said Stephen Sundlof, USDA's head veterinarian.

The FDA, which deals with animal drugs, has also launched its own investigation.

Such ear implants are used as growth enhancers in adult cattle but are not supposed to be used in veal calves, which are slaughtered at 12 to 23 weeks old.

This new controversy may scare off consumers already skittish from the recent Mad Cow incidences. And if the problem is widespread, as some USDA inspectors predict, veal prices may soar.

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