FDA plans to strengthen existing BSE firewall
Rockville, Md.-The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unveiled new controls to help prevent BSE from ever taking a foothold in the United States.
Health and Human Services (HHS)Secretary Tommy G. Thompson announced that several new public health measures, implemented by FDA, to strengthen significantly the multiple existing firewalls that protect Americans from exposure to the agent thought to cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and that help prevent the spread of mad cow disease in U.S. cattle.
The existing multiple firewalls, developed by both the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and HHS have been extremely effective in protecting the American consumer from exposure to BSE, FDA says.The firewalls include:
Specifically, HHS intends to ban from human food (including dietary supplements) and cosmetics a wide range of bovine-derived material so that the same safeguards that protect Americans from exposure to the agent of BSE through meat products regulated by USDA also apply to food products that FDA regulates, the agency reports.
Feeding practicesFDA will also prohibit certain currently allowed feeding and manufacturing practices involving feed for cattle and other ruminant animals. These additional measures will further strengthen FDA's 1997 "animal feed" rule.
"Today's actions will make strong public health protections against BSE even stronger," Thompson says. "Although the current animal feed rule provides a strong barrier against the further spread of BSE, we must never be satisfied with the status quo where the health and safety of our animals and our population is at stake. The science and our own experience and knowledge in this area are constantly evolving. Small as the risk may already be, this is the time to make sure the public is protected to the greatest extent possible."
"Today we are bolstering our BSE firewalls to protect the public," says FDA Commissioner Mark B. McClellan, MD, Ph.D. "We are further strengthening our animal feed rule, and we are taking additional steps to further protect the public from being exposed to any potentially risky materials from cattle. FDA's vigorous inspection and enforcement program has helped us achieve a compliance rate of more than 99 percent with the feed ban rule, and we intend to increase our enforcement efforts to assure compliance with our enhanced regulations."
Thompson adds, "Finally, we are continuing to assist in the development of new technologies that will help us in the future improve even further these BSE protections."
To implement these new protections, FDA will publish two interim final rules that will take effect immediately upon publication, although there will be an opportunity for public comment after publication.
The first interim final rule will ban the following materials from FDA-regulated human food, (including dietary supplements) and cosmetics:
The second interim final rule is designed to lower even further the risk that cattle will be purposefully or inadvertently fed prohibited protein, FDAsays. It was the feeding of such protein to cattle that was the route of disease transmission that led to the BSE epidemic in United Kingdom cattle in the 1980s and 1990s.
This interim final rule will implement four specific changes in FDA's present animal feed rule.
Poultry feed may legally contain protein that is prohibited in ruminant feed, such as bovine meat and bone meal. The concern is that spillage of poultry feed in the chicken house occurs and that poultry feed (which may contain protein prohibited in ruminant feed) is then collected as part of the "poultry litter" and added to ruminant feed.
To accompany these new measures designed to provide a further layer of protection against BSE, FDA will, in 2004, step up its inspections of feed mills and renderers. FDA will itself conduct 2,800 inspections and will make its resources go even further by continuing to work with state agencies to fund 3,100 contract inspections of feed mill and renderers, and other firms that handle animal feed and feed ingredient.