|Agencies invite comment on proposed BSE safeguards|
Three federal agencies have issued an advance notice of proposed rule making to solicit comments on measures under consideration to strengthen safeguards to protect U.S. cattle and consumers against bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
The July 14 Federal Register carried the advance notice and two related notices. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced the documents July 9.
The joint notice from the Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, and the Food and Drug Administration asks for public comment and provides a report on the work of the international panel convened by Veneman to review the U.S. response to the single case of BSE in the United States.
The FSIS is seeking comments on whether a country's BSE status should be taken into account when determining whether that country's meat inspection system is equivalent to the U.S. regulations.
APHIS invites comments on implementation of a national animal identification system. The agency asks when and under what circumstances the program currently under development should move from voluntary to mandatory, and which species should be covered now and over the long term.
The notice also requests comment on measures related to animal feed, which is regulated by the FDA. These measures include removing specified risk materials, requiring dedicated equipment or facilities, prohibiting use of all mammalian and poultry protein, and prohibiting materials from nonambulatory, disabled cattle and dead stock. The FDA has reached a preliminary conclusion that it should propose to remove specified risk materials from all animal feed.
In its comments to the FDA, the AVMA Animal Agriculture Liaison Committee will focus on the proposal's feed restriction section. The FDA asks for comment on whether scientific evidence shows that use of bovine blood or blood products in feed poses a risk of BSE transmission in cattle and other ruminants. This is of concern because blood products are added to colostrum replacers to protect calves, and an alternative would be needed.
On July 14, the FDA also issued an interim final rule that prohibits use of cattle-derived materials that can carry the BSE agent in cosmetics and human foods, including certain meat-based products and dietary supplements. Although the FDA interim final rule has the full force of law and took effect upon publication in the July 14 Federal Register, the department is asking for comments on it.
In conjunction with publication of the interim final rule, the FDA is proposing a record-keeping requirement for manufacturers and processors.
Deadline for comments to APHIS and FSIS is Sept. 13. The FDA will consider only the comments it received by Aug. 13. Comments can be submitted by going to www.regulations.gov, locating the docket, and following the instructions. Docket numbers are as follows: APHIS, 04-047-1; FSIS, 04-021ANPR; and FDA, 2004N-0264. For other submission methods, consult the Federal Register notice or call Dr. Anne Goodman, APHIS, (301) 734-4356; Daniel L. Engeljohn, PhD, FSIS, (202) 205-0495; and Dr. Burt Pritchett, FDA, (301) 827-0177.