- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The
Bush administration on Monday issued a package of new safeguards to protect
the human food and animal feed supply from mad cow disease, but consumer
groups said the protections did not go far enough.
- The Food and Drug Administration said it would ban animal
blood in cattle feed, while dietary supplements and cosmetics would be
kept free of materials from cattle too sick or hurt to walk.
- The FDA's new mad cow safeguards were the agency's first
regulatory action since the brain-wasting disease was found on Dec. 23
in a Washington state dairy cow.
- "Small as the risk may already be, this is the time
to make sure the public is protected to the greatest extent possible,"
said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson in a statement.
- Since August 1997, the FDA has banned the use of cattle
remains as an ingredient in feed for cattle, goats and sheep -- a practice
blamed for spreading mad cow disease throughout Britain in the 1980s and
1990s. However, the agency had exempted blood from the feed ban.
- "The rule will eliminate the present exemption in
the feed rule that allows mammalian blood and blood products to be fed
to other ruminants as a protein source," the agency said.
- Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy
(BSE), is believed to be contracted by eating livestock feed containing
bovine brains or spinal cords. Scientists believe people can get a human
variant of mad cow disease by eating beef products infected by BSE.
- The FDA said it would also ban the use of poultry litter
and leftover meat from restaurants in cattle feed.
- Some farmers use poultry feces and leftover meat from
large restaurant chains as an additional protein supplement for cattle.
Consumer groups are concerned these materials could contain traces of beef.
- Tom Cook, president of the Washington-based trade group
National Renderers Associations, said FDA's new rules would have some financial
impact on the industry, but wasn't sure as to its extent.
- SAFEGUARDS FOR HUMAN FOOD
- Following similar moves by the USDA, the FDA said it
would ban the use of materials from cattle unable to walk in the processing
of human food, dietary supplements and cosmetics. Cattle that die on the
farm would also be prohibited.
- Brain, skull, eyes, spinal cord of cattle 30 months or
older would also be banned from FDA-regulated food and cosmetics. All small
intestine and tonsils from cattle, regardless of age, would be prohibited.
- While supporting some of FDA steps, consumer advocates
said the agency didn't go far enough. They wanted the FDA to ban all animal
protein in animal feed.
- "FDA needs to go further to protect public health,"
said Michael Hansen, senior research associate for Consumers Union. "We
are worried that swine could be silent carriers of the disease."
- Soymeal traders at the Chicago Board of Trade had also
hoped for stronger FDA measures, as it would boost demand for soy-based
- "The market was held up on the possibility, remote
as it may be, that meat and bone meal may be rationed," said one cash-connected
trader. "This is far from that. This ban is very limited."
- Brokers said soymeal futures have already priced in FDA's
new rules as March contracts set a 6-1/2 year top last week.
- USDA REFOCUSES INVESTIGATION
- Meanwhile, the U.S. Agriculture Department is continuing
its investigation into the single mad cow case, hoping to complete it within
- As many as 98 animals were raised together in Canada
-- which means they may have shared the same source of feed -- and then
sent to the United States in two shipments in 2001.
- Chief USDA veterinary officer Ron DeHaven told reporters
the department would narrow its investigation to focus on 25 of those animals
that were born within a year before or a year after the infected cow. The
investigation has found 14 of the 25, he said.
- Investigators may not be able to track down all of the
25 head, DeHaven told reporters, but it was unlikely any of the 25 had
mad cow disease.
- The investigation might be over "in days or weeks."
- The USDA has quarantined nine herds in three states since
last month. DeHaven said it was safe to remove quarantine orders at five
cattle herds because the disease was not contagious and authorities have
killed animals in those herds that might be linked to the infected cow.
- Trade adviser David Hegwood, who was part of a USDA delegation
that traveled to Tokyo for discussions with Japanese officials last week,
said Japan's ban on U.S. beef imports was doing "serious economic
damage" to the U.S. beef industry and Japanese businesses as well.
- Hegwood said there would be another meeting with Japanese
officials next month after an international review team issues a report
on U.S. safeguards.
- The team was expected to issue its report by February
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