The Mad Cow Crisis May Already Be Happening in the USA

Mad Cow USA--The Disaster May Already Be Happening
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New York Times, Thursday, January 11, 2001

Many Makers of Feed Fail to Heed Rules on Mad Cow Disease
By Sandra Blakeslee

Large numbers of companies involved in manufacturing animal feed are not
complying with regulations meant to prevent the emergence and spread of
mad cow disease in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration
said yesterday.

The widespread failure of companies to follow the regulations, adopted
in August 1997, does not mean that the American food supply is unsafe,
Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine at
the F.D.A., said in an interview.

But much more needs to be done to ensure that mad cow disease does not
arise in this country, Dr. Sundlof said.

The regulations state that feed manufacturers and companies that render
slaughtered animals into useful products generally may not feed mammals
to cud-chewing animals, or ruminants, which can carry mad cow disease.

All products that contain rendered cattle or sheep must have a label
that says, "Do not feed to ruminants," Dr. Sundlof said. Manufacturers
must also have a system to prevent ruminant products from being
commingled with other rendered material like that from chicken, fish or
pork. Finally, all companies must keep records of where their products
originated and where they were sold.

Under the regulations, F.D.A. district offices and state veterinary
offices were required to inspect all rendering plants and feed mills to
make sure companies complied.

But results issued yesterday demonstrate that more than three years
later, different segments of the feed industry show varying levels of

Among 180 large companies that render cattle and another ruminant,
sheep, nearly a quarter were not properly labeling their products and
did not have a system to prevent commingling, the F.D.A. said. And among
347 F.D.A.-licensed feed mills that handle ruminant materials - these
tend to be large operators that mix drugs into their products - 20
percent were not using labels with the required caution statement, and
25 percent did not have a system to prevent commingling.

Then there are some 6,000 to 8,000 feed mills so small they do not
require F.D.A. licenses. They are nonetheless subject to the
regulations, and of 1,593 small feed producers that handle ruminant
material and have been inspected, 40 percent were not using approved
labels and 25 percent had no system in place to prevent commingling.

On the other hand, fewer than 10 percent of companies, big and small,
were failing to comply with the record-keeping regulations.

The American Feed Industry Association in Arlington, Va., did not return
phone calls seeking comment.

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