Tags: Mad | Cow | Safeguards | May | Flawed

Mad Cow Safeguards May Be Flawed

Tuesday, 18 April 2006 12:00 AM

The U.S. needs better safeguards against the spread of mad cow disease, according to two major consumer groups.

The Consumers Union and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) say the ban on using cattle parts in cattle feed is not being strictly enforced. Both groups urged more stringent rules on the ingredients allowed in livestock feed and stronger enforcement of the existing feed ban.

"The feed ban is not a firewall," said Michael Hansen of Consumers Union. Canada's three most recent cases of mad cow disease involved cattle born after U.S. and Canadian rules against using cattle parts in feed were announced in 1997.

Government officials often describe the feed ban as one of the two primary safeguards against mad cow disease, which is believed to be spread through contaminated feed.

The other safeguard is a requirement for meatpackers to remove from older cattle the brains, spinal cords and other nervous tissue most at risk of containing the disease's infective agent.

Canada's latest case, confirmed on Sunday, was a six-year-old purebred Holstein dairy cow in British Columbia.

Caroline Smith DeWaal of the CSPI said the new Canadian case suggested "there was probably contaminated feed being served to cattle in the early 2000s, so enforcement of the feed ban may not have been effective in Canada."

"The feed ban is only as good as its enforcement," DeWaal said. "If they fail to enforce the feed ban in the factories and on the farms ... then we'll see more animals" with mad cow disease.

Hansen and DeWaal said the United States should tighten its feed rule. They also called on the Food and Drug Administration to ban the use of chicken litter, table scraps and cattle blood in livestock feed.

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The U.S. needs better safeguards against the spread of mad cow disease, according to two major consumer groups. The Consumers Union and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) say the ban on using cattle parts in cattle feed is not being strictly enforced....
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2006-00-18
Tuesday, 18 April 2006 12:00 AM
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