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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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Information for Dairy and Beef Producers - Protein Feed Rules

January 22, 1998

Dairy and beef cattle producers are now prohibited from feeding to their cattle certain commonly used protein feed ingredients made from rendered mammalian tissue. The rules, issued in August 1997 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are designed to prevent the establishment and spread in the U.S. of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The disease, commonly known as "Mad Cow Disease," has been found in European cattle herds, but has not been diagnosed in the U.S.

The rule bans most types of protein made from mammalian tissue from feeds given to cattle and other ruminants (four-stomached-animals). An example of this protein is meat and bone meal made from cattle byproducts. Cattle may become infected with BSE when they eat contaminated protein products made from rendered diseased animals.

Feed manufacturers, protein blenders, and rendering companies are required to label any feeds or feed ingredients containing prohibited material with the warning statement, "Do not feed to cattle or other ruminants." FDA can take action against a company that sells prohibited material that does not have the warning label on it, especially if that feed is sold to cattle producers.

The rule has several provisions that apply to you, as a dairy or beef cattle producer:

  • You must watch for that warning label, and avoid using any prohibited feed in cattle rations.
  • If you suspect that feed may contain prohibited ingredients, do not accept it until you are sure it does not. Buy feed products only from companies that comply with the new rules.
  • If you mix feed for both cattle and non-ruminant animals (such as hogs and poultry) and you use prohibited material in the non-ruminant feed, you must either use a completely separate mixer for the cattle feed or carefully clean out your mixer to be sure no prohibited material contaminates the cattle feed. Even if you do not mix your own feed, but purchase feed for both cattle and non-ruminants, you must take steps to make sure that any prohibited material intended for your non-ruminant animals is not accidentally fed to your cattle.
  • You must keep records for a minimum of one year concerning all animal protein ingredients you buy and use with your cattle. For one year, keep copies of purchase invoices and labeling of all feeds that you receive containing animal protein products. The copies must be available for government inspectors. Keep at least one representative copy of the label from each type of feed you buy. FDA on-farm records inspections will be limited, but will be needed to verify that prohibited material is not being sold for feeding to cattle.

If you are careful in selecting feed and feed ingredients, and you keep adequate records, then you will not be found in violation of FDA's rules. More important, you will be doing all you can to protect your herd from risk of this disease.


Contact FDA

240-276-9115 FAX
Issued by: FDA, Center for Veterinary Medicine

Communications Staff, HFV-12

7519 Standish Place

Rockville, MD 20855