The Food and Drug Administration is seeking comments on proposed revisions to regulations regarding the use of animal proteins in ruminant feed.
Current regulations prohibit the use of some animal proteins in ruminant animal feed to prevent the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, should the disease enter the United States. The proposed changes would toughen those restrictions to further minimize the risk to cattle in the United States.
On the basis of current control measures, a report from the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis concluded that the risk to U.S. cattle and consumers is very low. The Department of Agriculture's BSE surveillance program, which has been in place since 1990 and targets high-risk cattle populations, has found no cases of BSE to date. Some new control measures, however, could reduce the risk even further, according to the Harvard report.
The control measures under consideration include:
- Excluding brain and spinal cord from rendered animal products
- Excluding poultry litter as a supplement in ruminant feed
- Labeling pet food with the statement "Do not feed to cattle or other ruminants"
- Reducing the risk of cross-contamination of feed or facilities during processing of prohibited proteins
- Eliminating plate waste from ruminant feed
The FDA has compiled a list of questions on each of these control measures and will use the information gathered from responses to help draft a proposed rule. The deadline for responding is Feb. 5. The complete FDA notice, including comment submission information, is available at www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/98fr/110602c.htm.