Update on BSE enforcement activities

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On the basis of a recently released report from the Food and Drug Administration, some feed facilities that handle mammalian protein are still not complying with federal rules designed to help prevent the establishment and amplification of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in the United States. Since 1997, the FDA has banned the use of most mammalian proteins in feeds for ruminant animals.

The FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine went through inspection reports from 11,375 renderers, feed mills, feed mixers, and other firms and identified 1,664 that were handling materials prohibited from use in ruminant feed. Six firms were classified as "official action indicated" and 171 firms were classified as "voluntary action indicated."

A facility receives an OAI classification when substantial objectionable conditions or practices are found, such as manufacturing procedures that are insufficient to ensure that ruminant feed is not contaminated with prohibited material. In these cases, facilities receive sanctions that address the establishment's lack of compliance, and the FDA promptly reinspects the facility to determine whether adequate corrective actions have been implemented.

A facility receives a VAI classification when objectionable conditions or practices are found that do not meet the threshold of regulatory importance, but do warrant actions to inform the establishment of findings that should be voluntarily corrected. VAI violations are technical violations of the Ruminant Feed Ban provisions, such as minor record-keeping lapses and conditions involving nonruminant feeds.

To date, BSE has not been identified in U.S. cattle, but the compliance data indicate that there is room for improvement. Individuals can access inspection information in a newly designed FDA-CVM database at www.fda.gov/cvm/index/bse/bsetoc.html.