Today the Food and Drug Administration announced the results of tests taken on feed used at a Texas feedlot that was suspected of containing meat and bone meal from other domestic cattle -- a violation of FDA's 1997 prohibition on using ruminant material in feed for other ruminants. Results indicate that a very low level of prohibited material was found in the feed fed to cattle.
FDA has determined that each animal could have consumed, at most
and in total, five-and-one-half grams - approximately a quarter ounce -- of
prohibited material. These animals weigh approximately 600 pounds.
It is important to note that the prohibited material was domestic
in origin (therefore not likely to contain infected material because there is
no evidence of BSE in U.S. cattle), fed at a very low level, and fed only once.
The potential risk of BSE to such cattle is therefore exceedingly low, even
if the feed were contaminated.
According to Dr. Bernard Schwetz, FDA's Acting Principal Deputy
Commissioner, "The challenge to regulators and industry is to keep this
disease out of the United States. One important defense is to prohibit the use
of any ruminant animal materials in feed for other ruminant animals. Combined
with other steps, like U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) ban on the importation
of live ruminant animals from affected countries, these steps represent a series
of protections, to keep American cattle free of BSE."
Despite this negligible risk, Purina Mills, Inc., is nonetheless
announcing that it is voluntarily purchasing all 1,222 of the animals held in
Texas and mistakenly fed the animal feed containing the prohibited material.
Therefore, meat from those animals will not enter the human food supply. FDA
believes any cattle that did not consume feed containing the prohibited
material are unaffected by this incident, and should be handled in the beef
supply clearance process as usual.
FDA believes that Purina Mills has behaved responsibly by first
reporting the human error that resulted in the misformulation of the animal
feed supplement and then by working closely with State and Federal authorities.
This episode indicates that the multi-layered safeguard system
put into place is essential for protecting the food supply and that continued
vigilance needs to be taken, by all concerned, to ensure these rules are followed
FDA will continue working with USDA as well as State and local
officials to ensure that companies and individuals comply with all laws and
regulations designed to protect the U.S. food supply.