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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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FDA Proposes Tighter Feed Ban to Prevent BSE

FDA Veterinarian Newsletter July/August 2005 Volume XX, No IV

The Food and Drug Administration on October 6 proposed banning certain high-risk cattle material from all animal feeds, including pet food, to strengthen safeguards against bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

The proposed rule would add requirements to the 1997 feed rule, which bans most mammalian protein from use in feed for cattle and other ruminants. The rule proposes to eliminate 90 percent of all potentially infectious material from the feed supply.

The proposed rule would ban from all feed:

  • Brains and spinal cord of cattle 30 months old or older.
  • Brains and spinal cord of cattle not inspected and passed for human consumption.
  • The entire carcass of cattle not inspected and passed for human consumption if the brain and spinal cord has not been removed.
  • Tallow, if it is derived from the material that would be prohibited under this rule and contains more than 0.15 percent insoluble impurities.
  • Mechanically separated beef derived from material that would be prohibited under this rule.

The proposed rule is designed to prevent any possible “leakage” of potential infectious material into cattle feed. The 1997 rule prohibits the use of most mammalian protein in feed for cattle and other ruminants, but allows the use of the protein, including the brain and spinal cord, in feeds for swine and poultry. The proposed rule would prevent the highest risk material from entering any part of the feed chain. Therefore, it is unlikely to find its way, by accident or deliberately, into feed for cattle.

FDA believes that the 1997 feed rule has been extremely effective. However, with the discovery of BSE in the United States, FDA officials decided to further strengthen the measures already in place.

Earlier position

In January 2004, FDA announced it was planning to take other steps to address the BSE situation, including banning the use of poultry litter, plate waste, and blood and blood products in cattle feed. FDA also said it was planning to require dedicated facilities for handling feed and feed ingredients for ruminant animals.

However, after further consideration, including recommendations from an International Review team convened by USDA to assess the controls in place to prevent the spread of BSE, FDA concluded that banning plate waste, poultry litter, and blood and requiring dedicated facilities are not needed if high risk tissues are excluded from animal feed channels. By keeping the high-risk material out of all feed, none could be spilled into poultry litter, so that route would be blocked. BSE rules by USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) and FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) address food safety by keeping potentially infectious material out of food, thus eliminating plate waste as a possible vehicle. Blood has not been shown to be a vehicle for BSE infection, so it was not included in the proposed rule. (In addition, international standard setting agencies believe blood products are as safe for use in animal feed as milk and milk products.) And separate, dedicated facilities would not be needed because the proposed rule would eliminate the high-risk material, thus eliminating the concern for contamination of cattle feed.

The proposal would cost the industry approximately $14 million to $24 million per year, annualized over a 10-year period. This estimate includes the cost of complying and the cost of substitute feeds.

The comment period for the rule closes December 20, 2005. Comments should be identified by Docket Number 2002N-0273, or RIM 0901-AF46. They can be submitted electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, or through the Agency website at http://www.fda.gov/dockets/ecomments.

Written comments can be submitted via fax at 301-827-6870; or mailed, hand delivered, or sent by courier as a paper copy, on a disk or a CD-ROM, to Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20852. The comments may be posted publicly on FDA’s dockets, including any personal information submitted with the comment.