FDA Issues Animal Feed Regulation with BSE Safeguards

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on April 23 issued a final regulation barring certain cattle materials from all animal feed, including pet food. The agency says the final rule further protects animals and consumers against bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, also known as "mad cow disease").

"This FDA action serves to further protect the U.S. cattle population from the already low risk of BSE," said Dr. Bernadette Dunham, director of FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine. "The new rule strengthens existing safeguards."

The materials that can no longer be used in animal feed are the tissues that have the highest risk for carrying the agent thought to cause BSE. These high risk cattle materials are the brains and spinal cords from cattle 30 months of age and older. The entire carcass of cattle not inspected and passed for human consumption is also prohibited, unless the cattle are less than 30 months of age, or the brains and spinal cords have been removed. The risk of BSE in cattle less than 30 months of age is considered to be exceedingly low.

The removal of high-risk materials from all animal feed will further protect against inadvertent transmission of the agent thought to cause BSE, which could occur through cross-contamination of ruminant feed (intended for animals with four-chambered stomachs, such as cattle) with non-ruminant feed or feed ingredients during manufacture and transport, or through misfeeding of non-ruminant feed to ruminants on the farm. The added measure of excluding high-risk materials from all animal feeds prevents any accidental feeding of such ingredients to cattle.

FDA says the regulation finalizes a proposed rule that it issued for public comment in October 2005. The final rule is effective 12 months from the issue date to allow the livestock, meat, rendering, and feed industries time to adapt their practices to comply with the new regulation. Under the new requirements of the final rule, renderers that process cattle not inspected and passed for human consumption must make available for FDA inspection their written protocols for determining the age of cattle and demonstrating that the brain and spinal cords of cattle have been effectively removed.

For a copy of the final rule and other information go to www.fda.gov/oc/opacom/hottopics/bse.html.

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