Published Date: 2003-12-30 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/AH> BSE, bovine - USA (WA) (09): new regulations
Archive Number: 20031230.3172
BSE, BOVINE - USA (WA)(09): NEW REGULATIONS
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail, a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: 30 Dec 2003
From: ProMED-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: USDA [edited]
Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today announced additional safeguards to
bolster the U.S. protection systems against Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy,
or BSE, and further protect public health.
For more than a decade, the United States has had in place an aggressive
surveillance, detection, and response program for BSE, said Veneman. "While
we are confident that the United States has safeguards and firewalls needed
to protect public health, these additional actions will further strengthen
our protection systems."
Veneman said the policies announced today have been under consideration for
many months, especially since the finding of a case of BSE in Canada in May
2003. The policies will further strengthen protections against BSE by
removing certain animals and specified risk material and tissues from the
human food chain; requiring additional process controls for establishments
using advanced meat recovery (AMR); holding meat from cattle that have been
tested for BSE until the test has confirmed negative; and prohibiting the air-
injection stunning of cattle.
While many cattle in the United States can be identified through a variety of
systems, the Secretary also announced that USDA will begin immediate
implementation of a verifiable system of national animal identification. The
development of such a system has been underway for more than a year and a
half to achieve uniformity, consistency, and efficiency across this national
system. "These are initial steps that USDA will take to enhance our
protection system," Veneman said. "I am appointing an international panel of
scientific experts to provide an objective review of our response actions and
identify areas for potential additional enhancements."
Specifically, USDA will take the following actions:
Effectively immediately, USDA will ban all downer cattle from the human food
chain. USDA will continue its BSE surveillance program.
USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service inspectors will no longer mark cattle
tested for BSE as "inspected and passed" until confirmation is received that
the animals have, in fact, tested negative for BSE. This new policy will be
in the form of an interpretive rule that will be published in the Federal
To prevent the entry into commerce of meat and meat food products that are
adulterated, FSIS inspection program personnel perform ante- and post-mortem
inspection of cattle that are slaughtered in the United States. As part of
the ante-mortem inspection, FSIS personnel look for signs of disease,
including signs of central nervous system impairment. Animals showing signs
of systemic disease, including those exhibiting signs of neurologic
impairment, are condemned. Meat from all condemned animals has never been
permitted for use as human food.
Specified Risk Material
Effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register, USDA will
enhance its regulations by declaring as specified risk materials skull,
brain, trigeminal ganglia, eyes, vertebral column, spinal cord, and dorsal
root ganglia of cattle over 30 months of age, and the small intestine of
cattle of all ages, thus prohibiting their use in the human food supply.
Tonsils from all cattle are already considered inedible and therefore do not
enter the food supply. These enhancements are consistent with the actions
taken by Canada after the discovery of BSE in May 2003.
In an interim final rule, FSIS will require federally inspected
establishments that slaughter cattle to develop, implement, and maintain
procedures to remove, segregate, and dispose of these specified risk
materials so that they cannot possibly enter the food chain. Plants must also
make that information readily available for review by FSIS inspection
personnel. FSIS has also developed procedures for verifying the approximate
age of cattle that are slaughtered in official establishments. State-
inspected plants must have equivalent procedures in place.
Advanced Meat Recovery
AMR is an industrial technology that removes muscle tissue from the bone of
beef carcasses under high pressure, without incorporating bone material when
operated properly. AMR product can be labeled as "meat." FSIS has previously
had regulations in place that prohibit spinal cord from being included in
products labeled as meat.
The regulation, effective upon publication in the Federal Register, expands
that prohibition to include dorsal root ganglia, clusters of nerve cells
connected to the spinal cord along the vertebrae column, in addition to
spinal cord tissue. Like spinal cord, the dorsal root ganglia may also
contain BSE infectivity if the animal is infected. In addition, because the
vertebral column and skull in cattle 30 months and older will be considered
inedible, it cannot be used for AMR.
In March 2003, FSIS began a routine regulatory sampling program for beef
produced from AMR systems to ensure that spinal cord tissue is not present in
this product. In a new interim final rule announced today, establishments
have to ensure process control through verification testing to ensure that
neither spinal cord nor dorsal root ganglia is present in the product.
To ensure that portions of the brain are not dislocated into the tissues of
the carcass as a consequence of humanely stunning cattle during the slaughter
process, FSIS is issuing a regulation to ban the practice of air-injection
Mechanically Separated Meat
USDA will prohibit use of mechanically separated meat in human food.
On 23 Dec 2003, Veneman reported that a cow in Washington State has tested
positive for BSE. A swift and comprehensive investigation is ongoing to trace
the animal to a herd of origin, which is believed to be located in Alberta,
Canada, as well as track additional animals that have entered the United
States. (For the latest update on the investigation, visit
[There are many issues that are not clear from Secretary Veneman's statement.
For example, how does this issue of non-downer cattle affect the custom
exempt plant, where a producer can take his animal for custom processing and
have the meat returned to him, and not for public sale? If that producer
knows the animal was healthy and now has obturator paralysis from a difficult
birth, then what options does that producer have, and what will be the cost
to the producer? These are only a few of questions that are presently
unresolved. - Mod.TG]
Date: 30 Dec 2003
From: Richard Johnson <email@example.com>
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academies has recently completed a
2-year study on "Transmissible Spnongiform Encephalopathies: Assessment of
Relevant Science" and the final report entitled "Advancing Prion Science"
although not yet published, is available online at <http://www.nap.edu>; then
search on prion.
Much of the science relative to the present discussions of mad cow disease
and human threat are covered in that volume.
Richard T. Johnson, MD
Distinguished Service Professor of Neurology, Microbiology & Neuroscience
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine & Bloomberg School of Public
The Johns Hopkins Hospital
600 North Wolfe Street
Baltimore, MD 21287
[Dr. Johnson, we appreciate your announcements regarding this disease. -