The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering banning meatpackers from processing for human consumption the brains and spinal cores of cattle older than two years, in a measure further to protect the national herd from BSE. The move would change the way meatpackers process almost five million of the animals they slaughter each year. In Europe, where 116 people are believed to have succumbed to the human form of mad cow disease, far stricter measures are already in place. Packers are widely prohibited from making food from animals that are older than 30 months unless specifically proven to be disease-free. Several countries, notably France, Germany and Italy, have outlawed animals older than 24 months from entering the food chain.