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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

For Consumers

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Strengthening Beef Safety

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a final regulation barring certain cattle materials from all animal feed, including pet food. FDA regulates animal feed and drugs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulates meat. Together the agencies enforce regulations that ensure that specific risk materials are kept out of the human food supply.

Some features of the final rule:

  • The final rule strengthens existing safeguards to protect animals and consumers against bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, also known as "mad cow disease").
  • The rule builds on FDA's 1997 feed regulation, which prohibited the use of certain proteins from mammals in feed for ruminants (such as cows, sheep and goats).
  • The cattle materials that can no longer be used in animal feed are the tissues that have the highest risk for carrying the agent thought to cause BSE. These high-risk cattle materials are the brains and spinal cords from cattle 30 months of age and older. Removing these high-risk materials from all animal feed will prevent any accidental feeding of these materials to cattle.
  • This final rule is effective 12 months from April 23, 2008, to allow the livestock, meat, rendering, and feed industries time to adapt their practices to comply with the new regulation.

Scientific studies have linked BSE to cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) in humans, a fatal disease that most likely results from people consuming infectious material from cattle with BSE.

Rules issued in 2004 prohibited specific risk materials from use in the human food supply. There have been no vCJD cases linked to consuming U.S. beef, and the risk of BSE among U.S. cattle is low.

This article appears on FDA's Consumer Health Information Web page, which features the latest on all FDA-regulated products.

Date Posted April 25, 2008


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