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January 27, 2004   Email to Friend 

Jeff Helms
(334) 613-4212
January 27, 2004

MONTGOMERY, Ala-- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said Jan. 26 it will ban the use of animal blood and poultry litter in cattle feed. Feeding table scraps also is being banned. The news comes a little over a month after the discovery of the first U.S. case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Alabama Farmers Federation Beef Director Perry Mobley said the Federation's State Beef Committee met in Montgomery on Monday and, among other things, discussed the expected ban by FDA. He said prior to the ban, some Alabama producers had been contacted by cattle buyers and feed lot owners who said they would no longer purchase beef that had been fed poultry litter.

"The ban definitely will create a hardship on some of our beef producers who depend heavily on composted poultry litter as a protein supplement," Mobley said. "However, we will continue to work to keep litter as a viable fertilizer source."

Mobley said the Federation will work with state and federal agencies in seeking relief for producers who have been adversely affected by the ban. "We will continue to support research for alternative, affordable protein sources for Alabama beef producers," Mobley said.

Federation Poultry Director Jimmy Carlisle said the ban also will affect Alabama poultry growers who sell litter for feed.

"Although most poultry litter in Alabama is used as fertilizer for hay and pastureland, this ban will reduce the marketing options for our growers," Carlisle said. "We will continue to explore alternative uses for poultry litter while we work to bolster confidence in the U.S. food supply."

Mobley said the practice of feeding poultry litter to beef cattle does not pose a threat to human health. "FDA and USDA are both taking extra precautions to reassure consumers in light of the single BSE case confirmed in Washington state last month," Mobley said.

In addition to banning the feeding of litter, FDA is requiring the equipment and production lines in feed mills to be dedicated to non-ruminant animal feeds if the mills use protein prohibited in ruminant feed. FDA further said it plans to step up inspections of feed mills this year.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said his department also intends to ban a wide range of bovine-derived material from dietary supplements and cosmetics. These bans will be similar to those issued for food earlier this month by USDA.

The first interim final rule will ban the following materials from FDA-regulated human food and dietary supplements, and cosmetics:

-- Any material from "downer" cattle

-- Any material from cattle that die on the farm before reaching the slaughter plant

-- Specified Risk Materials (SRMs) that are known to harbor the highest concentrations of the infectious agent for BSE, such as the brain, skull, eyes, and spinal cord of cattle 30 months or older, and a portion of the small intestine and tonsils from all cattle, regardless of their age or health; and

-- The product known as mechanically separated beef, a product which may contain SRMs. Meat obtained by Advanced Meat Recovery (an automated system for cutting meat from bones), may be used since USDA regulations do not allow the presence of SRMs in this product.

The second interim final rule is designed to further decrease the risk that cattle will be purposefully or inadvertently fed prohibited protein. The interim final rule will implement four specific changes in FDA's present animal feed rule:

1. It will eliminate the present exemption in the feed rule that allows mammalian blood and blood products to be fed to other ruminants as a protein source.

2. It will also ban the use of poultry litter as a feed ingredient for ruminant animals. Poultry litter consists of bedding, spilled feed, feathers, and fecal matter that are collected from living quarters where poultry is raised.

3. It will ban the use of "plate waste" as a feed ingredient for ruminants. Plate waste consists of uneaten meat and other meat scraps that are currently collected from some large restaurant operations and rendered into meat and bone meal for animal feed.

4. It will further minimize the possibility of cross-contamination of ruminant and non-ruminant animal feed by requiring equipment, facilities or production lines to be dedicated to non-ruminant animal feeds if they use protein that is prohibited in ruminant feed.

FDA also will step up its inspections of feed mills and renderers this year. The agency itself will conduct 2,800 inspections and will continuing to work with state agencies to fund 3,100 contract inspections of feed mill and renderers and other firms that handle animal feed and feed ingredients.

Through partnerships with states, FDA will also receive data on 700 additional inspections, for a total of 3,800 state contract and partnership inspections in 2004 alone, including annual inspections of 100% of all known renderers and feed mills that process products containing materials prohibited in ruminant feed.

To implement these new protections, FDA will publish two interim final rules that will take effect immediately upon publication. There will be an opportunity for public comment after publication.

Comprehensive information about FDA's work on BSE and links to other related websites are available at www.fda.gov.

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