For Immediate Release
April 17, 2006
CONSUMERS UNION SAYS LATEST CANADIAN MAD COW CASE SHOWS U.S. AND CANADIAN FEED RULES INEFFECTIVE
Government should act in light of mounting industry and scientific pressure
Yonkers, NY–The fifth Canadian case of mad cow disease, which was confirmed by Canadian authorities yesterday, is the third one where the infected cow was born after feed rules were established that were supposed to create a firewall against the disease, says Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports.
“This shows that the feed restrictions in place in Canada, and similar restrictions in the United States, are simply not adequate to control the spread of this disease,” states Michael Hansen, Ph.D., a senior scientist with Consumers Union. “There is no firewall. The safety of both Canadian and American beef is at risk.”
Both the United States and Canada instituted feed rules in 1997. Both countries banned the feeding of remains of dead and slaughtered cattle to other cows. However both countries continued to allow cattle remains to be fed to pigs and chickens, and pig and chicken remains to be fed to cows. In addition, the United States allows two more kinds of risky material—restaurant waste and chicken coop floor wastes—that Canada prohibits in cattle feed.
In October 2005, the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed a small improvement in its feed rules: banning cattle brains and spinal cords from cattle that are dead or over 30 months old from chicken and pig feed. The FDA argued that this would prevent any infectious material present in cattle brains from coming back to cattle via the chicken coop floor wastes. However this proposal is still pending, and has been criticized as too weak in comments filed with the agency by industry representatives, including the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and McDonald’s, by scientific experts, as well as by consumer advocates.
“When a distinguished scientist like the former head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s mad cow program is saying that the FDA feed rules are too lax, isn’t it time for the government to finally listen? What is it going to take?” Hansen questioned.
Contact: Michael Hansen, 914-378-2452 (work), 917-774-3801 (cell); Jean Halloran, 914-378-2457