US beef processor Creekstone Farms Premium Beef has said it will aggressively challenge the US Department of Agriculture’s decision not to allow the company to voluntarily test all of the cattle it processes for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

In February Creekstone Farms submitted to the USDA an application to conduct private testing at the company’s Arkansas City, Kansas processing plant in order to enable it to export its beef to Japan. The company said that although it has held ongoing meetings with the USDA since that time, the USDA’s latest announcement came as a surprise to the company.

“We are extremely disappointed but nonetheless relieved to finally have a response from the USDA,” said John Stewart, CEO of Creekstone Farms. “We now know where USDA stands but are surprised it took them six weeks to respond with a ‘no’ to our request.”

The Kansas-based company said it is 100% committed to conducting BSE testing at its plant in order to reverse embargoes and allow its beef back into Japan and other export destinations.

Stewart said his company is considering numerous options in order to challenge the USDA’s authority and has not ruled out potential legal action.

According to Creekstone, the USDA said it would continue to negotiate with Japan and other export countries to reinstate US beef exports. However, the USDA reiterated its belief that BSE testing of younger animals, such as those processed by Creekstone Farms, is not scientifically justified or necessary.

Japan has said it will not resume imports of US beef until the US introduces 100% testing of cattle.