In recent weeks, the economy started to brighten, consumer spending began to turn up, and the food industry faced the dawn of a new year somewhat optimistic ... then WHAM! Like a piece of coal dropped into the Christmas stocking, mad cow surfaced again. Yet this time, it showed up in the United States -- a country some officials had said was an unlikely place for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) to occur. The news of BSE's U.S. arrival broke on Dec. 23, but that didn't stop one family ...

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