November 12, 2002 Food and Drug Administration

In a call to State public health and agriculture officials throughout the U.S. today, FDA announced that the Agency will not permit material from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)-positive animals, or animals at high risk for CWD, to be used as an ingredient in feed for any animal species. Animals considered to be at high risk for CWD would include animals from CWD-positive captive herds, free ranging animals from the endemic area in Colorado and Wyoming, deer from the eradication zone in Wisconsin, and deer from any areas designated around any new foci of CWD infection that might be identified through surveillance or hunter harvest testing. FDA stated that animal feed or feed ingredients on the market that incorporate this material should be recalled or otherwise removed from the marketplace. CWD is a neurological (brain) disease of farmed and wild deer and elk that belong in the cervid animal family. The disease has been found in farmed and wild mule deer, white-tailed deer, North American elk, and in farmed black-tailed deer. CWD belongs to a family of animal and human diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). These include bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or "mad cow" disease) in cattle; scrapie in sheep and goats; and classical and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob diseases (CJD and vCJD) in humans. TSEs are very rare, but are always fatal. Although CWD shares certain features with other TSEs, it is a distinct disease. There is no known treatment for these diseases, and there is no vaccine to prevent them. In addition, there are no validated diagnostic tests for CWD or other TSEs that can be used to test for the disease in live animals or humans.

Only deer and elk are known to be susceptible to CWD by natural transmission. However, there is little scientific evidence to show whether CWD is or is not a hazard to humans or non-cervid animals such as cattle and pigs. Therefore, FDA believes it is prudent that CWD-positive deer and elk not be used in animal feed. During the call to State health and agriculture officials, FDA announced that the Agency plans to issue a Compliance Policy Guide on this issue at a later date. ------------------------------------------------------------------------

Issued by: FDA, Center for Veterinary Medicine, Communications Staff, HFV-12 7519 Standish Place, Rockville, MD 20855 Telephone: (301) 827-3800 FAX: (301) 827-4065 Internet Web Site:

Commentary by John Stauber, Co-author (with Sheldon Rampton) of Mad 
Cow USA available free, full-text online at

Well, well, well. My response is that its better late than never, but this is still way too little and way too late.

CWD has apparently been spread across North America the past decade via the exponential growth of the farmed deer and elk industry, and the feeding of rendered by-product as mineral and protein supplement to grow big antlers on both farmed and wild animals.

To limit the rendering of deer and elk from the just the areas described below is much too small a response, but predictable. The FDA takes its lead from the livestock industry and is protecting the continued feeding of billions of pounds of rendered by-product each year in the US.

Until the US implements the same strict ban on feeding rendered by-products that have been imposed in the UK and EU countries, the threat of CWD and other TSEs in North America spreading to livestock and people will grow.


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