DC, July 12, 2004 (ENS): To minimize the spread
of mad cow disease and its human counterpart variant
Creutzfeld-Jacob disease, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) has announced an interim final rule to take effect
on Wednesday prohibiting the use of certain cattle parts
in human foods, dietary supplements, and cosmetics.
But the U.S. Agriculture Department (USDA) is postponing
actions announced last January to keep animal feed free
of materials that could cause mad cow disease, a fatal
brain wasting illness, formally known as bovine spongiform
encephalopathy (BSE). The agency is seeking public comments
before it moves ahead with the actions regulating animal
more information on how to comment on the
proposed feed regulations visit the Action
In human foods, the FDA's interim final rule prohibits
the use of cattle-derived materials that can carry the
BSE infectious agent. These high-risk materials include
the brain, skull, eyes, and spinal cord of cattle 30
months of age or older, and a portion of the small intestine
and tonsils from all cattle, regardless of their age.
Prohibited high risk bovine materials in human food
also include material from non-ambulatory disabled cattle,
the small intestine of all cattle, material from cattle
not inspected and passed for human consumption, and
mechanically separated beef.
This action is consistent with the recent interim final
rule issued by USDA declaring these materials to be
unfit for human food and prohibiting their use as human
Mad cow disease is transmitted when materials from
infected cattle are made into cattle feed and fed to
healthy animals. The composition of animal feed is under
scrutiny as U.S. officials try to create public confidence
in the U.S. beef supply after a Washington cow was found
infected with BSE last December.
In 1997, the FDA prohibited the feeding of most mammalian
protein to cattle and other ruminant animals. USDA implemented
additional measures in January to ensure that no cattle
tissues known to be high risk for carrying the BSE agent
are included in USDA regulated products.
On Friday, the Agriculture Department and the FDA announced
an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to seek public
- Mandating dedicated equipment or facilities for
handling and storing animal feed and ingredients to
prevent cross contamination
- Prohibiting the use of all mammalian and poultry
protein in ruminant feed
- Prohibiting materials from non-ambulatory cattle
and dead stock from use in all animal feed
- The details and circumstances of moving from a voluntary
to a mandatory animal identification plan
The timeline for any action on these advance notices
is a year or two down the line, the officials said Friday,
as they want to hear public comments before promulgating
a final rule.
But on January 26, Health and Human Services Secretary
Tommy Thompson announced an interim final rule that
- require equipment, facilities or production lines
to be dedicated to non-ruminant animal feeds if they
use protein that is prohibited in ruminant feed.
- eliminate the present exemption in the feed rule
that allows mammalian blood and blood products to
be fed to other ruminants as a protein source.
- ban the use of poultry litter as a feed ingredient
for ruminant animals. Poultry litter consists of bedding,
spilled feed, feathers, and fecal matter that are
collected from living quarters where poultry is raised.
This material is then used in cattle feed in some
areas of the country where cattle and large poultry
raising operations are located near each other.
The FDA says it has reached "a preliminary conclusion"
that it should propose to remove the risky materials
from all animal feed and is currently working on a proposal
to accomplish this goal. Public comments on these issues
raised in the advanced notice of proposed rulemaking
are due to the FDA next month.