FDA may revise feed rules to prevent mad-cow disease

November 6, 2002 Bloomberg News by Kerry Dooley

Banning restaurant table scraps containing meat, litter from poultry pens and pet food from use as cattle feed might further reduce the risk that mad-cow disease will occur in the U.S., regulators say.

The Food and Drug Administration is seeking public comment on whether to bar these feed additives. In 1997, the agency barred most feeding of beef to cattle to prevent transmission of mad-cow disease. So far, there have been no U.S. cases of the nervous- system disease, also called bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

A report from the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis on mad-cow disease risk helped spur the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to consider new restrictions, the agency said in a document published today in the Federal Register.

"We're taking a fresh look at our animal-feed rules," said Lawrence Bachorik, an FDA spokesman. "I can't predict what might happen because we have to hear what people have to to."

About 117 people in the U.K. have died since the 1990s of a variation of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human version of mad- cow disease. People contract the fatal disease, which damages the brain, by eating infected meat. A naturally occurring form of the illness previously had been seen mostly in elderly people.

The FDA will solicit public comment through Feb. 4. The agency may later propose changes to its feed-additive rules based on these comments, Bachorik said. (To read the Federal Register notice, go to http: //www.fda.gov/OHRMS/DOCKETS/98fr/110602c.htm)

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