Public comment called for BSE

Related tags Bovine spongiform encephalopathy

In the wake of a mad cow disease-infected cow discovered at the end
of 2003 in the US, the government has come up with three new
actions to protect the food chain.

US health secretary Tommy Thompson and agriculture secretary Ann Veneman said this week that the new moves would build on existing safeguards to protect consumers against the agent that causes bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

"This administration is committed to science-based measures to enhance and protect public health,"​ Veneman said.

Among the actions​ is a joint USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service (FSIS), USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notice calling for public comment on additional preventive actions being considered concerning BSE.

In addition, there is an interim final FDA rule that prohibits the use of certain cattle-derived materials in human food (including dietary supplements) and cosmetics, and a proposed FDA rule on record keeping requirements for the interim final rule relating to the ban.

"With these additional measures, we will make a strong system even stronger by putting into effect the most comprehensive, science-based improvements possible,"​ said acting commissioner for the FDA, Dr Lester Crawford.

In December last year a BSE cow was slaughtered in Washington state, the country's first case. The cow was born on a dairy farm in Alberta, Canada, on 9 April 1997. She then moved to the US in September 2001 along with 80 other cattle from that dairy. A brain sample collected from the cow at slaughter tested positive for BSE on 23 December.

In February this year the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) ended its search for additional cases of mad cow disease even though officials had not located all the animals they sought after the first discovery.

The end of the investigation leaves US officials not knowing what happened to 11 of the 25 cattle that authorities consider likely to have eaten the same potentially infectious feed given to the Washington state Holstein born from a Canadian herd."Of the 17 other cattle from the Canadian birth herd, seven animals have been identified in the United States,"​ said the USDA in February.

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