Fda strengthens bse safeguards in animal feed


Fda strengthens bse safeguards in animal feed


In a move to reduce the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as "mad cow disease", and protect the health of humans and animals, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has banned certain high risk animal parts from all animal feed, including pet food. The rule was issued yesterday, 23rd April, and will come into force in 12 months to give the industry time to put it into practice.

Director of the agency's Center for Veterinary Medicine, Dr Bernadette Dunham said in a prepared statement that the new rule tightens up existing safeguards and:

"Serves to further protect the US cattle population from the already low risk of BSE."

The move is also expected to improve the US beef export situation, since some countries impose restrictions on US beef imports.

According to the Washington Post, a US government official said that Korea agreed last week to lift restrictions if the US tightened controls on livestock feed.

The current rule in the US was passed in 1997 and bans the use of cattle materials in cattle feed. The new rule curtails the use of certain cattle materials in all animal feed.

The materials that will no longer be allowed to go into animal feed are the those that carry the highest risk of spreading BSE, such as the brains and spinal cords of cattle aged 30 months or more.

The FDA also said that:

"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 cut-off age of 30 months is because below this age the BSE risk is "exceedingly low", said the agency.

The rule covers all animal feed, and not just feed made for animals that get BSE, in order to reduce the risk of transmission by indirect as well as direct routes. An example of a direct route is the obvious one, when cattle eat feed that contains BSE-infected material.

An example of an indirect route is when cattle are given the wrong animal feed by mistake (and this contains BSE-infected material), or when cattle are given the right feed, but it was contaminated during manufacture or transport because it came into contact with BSE-infected feed intended for animals that do not get BSE.

The final rule is the last stage of a process that started with a proposal put out for public comment in October 2005.

Under this new requirement, renderers that process cattle carcases not inspected and passed for human consumption have to:

"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".

Research shows that people with variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), a fatal degenerative brain disease, probably caught it from eating BSE-infected beef or derivatives.

The FDA stressed that there have been no cases of vCJD in the US linked to consumption of US beef, and the risk of BSE in US cattle is low.

To date the US has reported three cases of BSE, the first in December 2003, according to a report in the Washington Post.

Click here for FDA.

Sources: FDA, Washington Post.


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