January 26, 2004—Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports praises the new restrictions on animal feed announced today by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “FDA’s new rule will close several of the worst loopholes in the current feed regulation and will definitely reduce the risk that mad cow disease could spread in the United States,” states Michael Hansen, Senior Research Associate.
Consumers Union states that the new FDA rule will make it illegal to use cows blood in milk replacer for calves. “This is an important change since blood can carry the infectious agent that causes mad cow disease,” Hansen states.
Consumers Union criticizes the FDA, however, for failing to ban the feeding of all mammalian material to food animals. Hansen says, “FDA needs to go further to protect public health. It is still perfectly legal under these new rules to feed cows to pigs and chickens, and chicken and pig material to cows. Swine have been shown to be capable on contracting mad cow disease in a laboratory setting. We are worried that swine could be silent carriers of the disease. FDA should extend its rules to ban all risky refeeding practices.”
FDA says that it is still considering additional measures.
Consumers Union also supports FDA’s decision to ban poultry litter in cattle feed. Poultry litter is material from the floor of a chicken production facility and includes feces, feathers and uneaten poultry feed that the birds knock on the floor. “Since poultry feed can be made from cattle remains, we support FDA’s decision to ban the refeeding of poultry litter back to cattle. This will close off one more route whereby mad cow disease could circulate among food animals,” Hansen says.
To interview an expert call Jean Halloran, Director, Consumers Union Consumer Policy Institute, at 914-378-2457 (w) or 718-625-2428 (h) or Michael Hansen, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate, Consumers Union Consumer Policy Institute, at 914-378-2452 (w) or 917-774-3801 (cell).