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FDA, USDA propose mad cow regulations

July 19, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 29

FDA has banned the use of certain cattle tissues in human food, dietary supplements, and cosmetics in response to the discovery of one cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The banned materials include brain, eyes, skull, spinal cord, and vertebrae from cattle that are 30 months and older. The rule takes effect immediately. In addition, USDA and FDA jointly announced an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to seek public comments on the following measures: prohibiting the use of all mammalian and poultry protein in ruminant feed and prohibiting meat from nonambulatory (downer) cattle and cattle that die on farms from use in all animal feed. If these proposals are finalized, cattle may no longer be fed poultry litter, plate waste from restaurants, and freeze-dried cattle blood. In a related development, a draft report by USDA's inspector general says the department's BSE testing program is seriously flawed. USDA plans to test about 220,000 cows for BSE by the end of 2005 in a program said to provide statistical assurance of beef safety. However, the survey will result in "questionable estimates" of the true prevalence of the disease, the inspector general's report states, because participation is voluntary and USDA assumes erroneously that BSE occurs almost entirely in downer cattle.


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