WASHINGTON – The Food and Drug Administration announced Jan. 26 that it would beef up the firewalls that protect the U.S. food supply from bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease.
The FDA will ban a range of bovine-derived material from cosmetics and human food, including dietary supplements.
The 1997 animal feed rule will also be expanded to end certain currently allowed feeding and manufacturing practices involving feed for cattle and other ruminants.
Food ingredients. The FDA’s first interim final rule bans the following material from FDA-regulated human food and cosmetics:
* any material from nonambulatory, or downer, cattle;
* any material from cattle that die on the farm before reaching a slaughter plant;
* Specified risk materials known to harbor the BSE infectious agent (brain, skull, eyes, spinal cord of cattle 30 months or older; parts of the small intestine and tonsils from all cattle regardless of age); and
* “Mechanically separated beef.” However, beef processed from Advanced Meat Recovery (an automated system for cutting meat from bones) may be used since USDA regs do not allow the presence of risk materials in this product.
Feed rule. A second FDA rule will make four changes in the existing animal feed rule created in 1997.
First, the rule will end the exemption that allows mammalian blood and blood products to be fed to other ruminants as a protein source.
Second, the rule will also ban the use of poultry litter as a feed ingredient for ruminant animals.
In some areas of the country, poultry litter is used in cattle feed.
Poultry feed may legally contain protein that is banned in ruminant feed. The concern is that poultry feed spilled in the chicken house may end up in the litter, which is then added to ruminant feed.
Third, the FDA will ban the use of “plate waste” as a feed ingredient for ruminants.
Plate waste, or uneaten meat or scraps, is currently gathered from some large restaurants and rendered into meat and bone meal for animal feed.
Fourth, the FDA will require processors to dedicate equipment, facilities or production lines exclusively to nonruminant animal feeds if they use protein that is prohibited in ruminant feed.
More inspections. The FDA also announced it will step up its inspections of feed mills and renderers, beyond USDA inspections.
The agency said it will conduct 2,800 inspections and contract another 3,100 inspections of feed mills and renderers that handle animal feed and feed ingredients.
USDA investigation. The USDA is focusing on finding 25 of the 81 animals that entered the United States with the infected cow. These 25 animals were born into the birth herd of the diseased cow.
To date, the USDA has tracked 14 of these animals.
In a separate search, USDA has located 28 of the 81 animals that cross the border with the infected cow. Several new farms have been placed under a hold, or quarantine (see related information).
Two-year window. The USDA is also narrowing its focus on animals that were born in a two-year window – those born a year before or a year after the positive animal.
“It’s presumed that the feed that would have infected the positive animal would have been consumed during that two-year window,” said Ron DeHaven, USDA’s chief veterinary officer.
“We are now really focusing our effort on the 25 animals out of the 81 that fit into that two-year window,” DeHaven said Jan. 26.
DeHaven admitted that the USDA will probably not be able to positively identify all 25 because many of them may have been culled and others because of little or no identification records.
At some point, DeHaven added, there will be little to be gained by continuing the search. He said Monday he expects the investigation to wrap up within several days to a couple of weeks.
Slaughter continues. Over last weekend, USDA depopulated and sampled 20 animals from a farm in Boardman, Ore., as well as 15 animals from the farm in Connell, Wash.
The hold, or quarantines, have been lifted on operations in Mabton, Sunnyside, Connell and Mattawa, Wash.; and Boardman, Ore.
So far, 654 animals have been slaughtered; of that, 449 were calves on the calf-raising operation that housed the infected cow’s unidentified bull calf. Testing from all cows sampled have been negative for BSE.
Trade update. The United States conducted a second series of meetings with the Japanese government, but with little success in resuming trade. More meetings are expected in February.
Ironically, Japan did not enact its own ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban until October 2001 after their first finding of mad cow disease in September of that year.
The United States bans beef from Japan because of that BSE outbreak. Japan has not asked the ban be lifted, according to J.B. Penn, undersecretary of agriculture for farm and foreign agricultural services.
Teams have also been in the Philippines, Thailand, Hong Kong, Korea and China talking to officials in those countries about resuming beef trade.
Waiting for report. Many countries are waiting for a report from the International Review Team, that conducted its own investigation into how the United States was handling the incident and resulting precautions enacted.
“The measures that we’ve put in place are consistent with the OIE [international] guidelines and therefore should be sufficient for these countries to begin resuming trade with us,” said David Hegwood, senior international trade adviser to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman.
Japan is requesting 100 percent testing, something Hegwood said could cost the United States about $900 million.
Winding down. DeHaven said the international team suggested the United States has “already expended more resources than what there are in terms of potential returns.”
He expects the team’s report in several weeks.
Tracking the 81 cows from Canada
* One is the BSE-positive cow, located in a herd in Mabton, Wash.
* Nine more were also located in the Mabton herd.
* Three were located at a farm in Tenino, Wash.
* Six were located at a farm in Connell, Wash.
* One is located at a farm in Quincy, Wash.
* Three were located at a farm in Mattawa, Wash.
* One is located at a farm in Moxee, Wash.
* Three are located at a farm in Burley, Idaho.
* One is located at a farm in Othello, Wash.
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