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FDA Issues New Mad Cow Rules

WASHINGTON - The Food and Drug Administration issued rules last week prohibiting nervous system tissue and other cattle parts from being used in human food, dietary supplements, and cosmetics, according to published reports.

The oft-delayed rules ban the use of brain, skull, eyes, and spinal cord tissue, where mad cow disease first appears, from cattle 30 months and older. Tonsils and small intestines from all cattle are banned, as is material from cattle unable to stand unaided.

Manufacturers and processors must stop using any of those materials at once. The FDA is also seeking public and industry comment on a proposed ban on the use of such materials in animal feed.

The FDA's new rules are in line with those released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture shortly the December 2003 discovery of a cow affected by the disease in Washington state.

In a statement J. Patrick Boyle, president of the Arlington, Va.-based American Meat Institute commended the federal government's actions to keep the meat supply safe and affirmed his organization's support of efforts to achieve 100 percent compliance with existing feed restrictions, as well as proposed restrictions on the use of poultry litter and plate waste in ruminant feed and the use of 'dedicated' feed-producing facilities to prevent inadvertent contamination.

He added, however, that "the meat industry . . . opposes the mandatory elimination of specified risk materials (SRMs) from all animal feed. With no indigenous BSE case detected in the United States, this policy is unnecessary and redundant in light of other existing feed restrictions."

Janet M. Riley, AMI's s.v.p. of consumer affairs, praised the effective firewalls and extremely good compliance that the meat industry has adopted on its own, noting that meat producers have been "very proactive and pre-emptive" in regard to mad cow disease.
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