“Reports yesterday indicate that a Texas feed mill may have inadvertently mixed in meat and bone meal derived from U.S. cattle with a feed supplement which later was fed to some cattle. It is important to understand this is a compliance issue, not a safety issue. There has never been a case of BSE found in the U.S.

“The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) supports full compliance with FDA regulations that prohibit the feeding of mammalian-derived protein supplements that might be a risk for carrying the BSE infectious agent. We have made it clear to the feed industry and the rendering industry from the start that we expect full compliance. If there are violations of the law — whether purposeful or accidental — NCBA expects these to be dealt with according to law.

“If there are folks within the industry who don’t understand the seriousness of the situation, they need to be brought to understand it — both by communication from the industry and if necessary by penalties from the regulatory authorities involved. There is simply no excuse for non-compliance. As an industry, we are unwavering on that.

“This is not a safety issue because the meat and bone meal in question originated in the U.S., and there has never been a case of BSE found here. The FDA feed regulation ban is a critical firewall measure and was implemented as an extra precaution. While BSE has not been found in the U.S., the feed ban assures that if BSE somehow ever did get into this country, it would not spread and could be quickly isolated and eradicated. It should be noted that just feeding mammal-derived proteins to cattle does not in and of itself cause BSE. BSE is only spread through feed if that feed is contaminated with the BSE infectious agent.

“The BSE agent only has been found in central nervous system tissue including brain, spinal cord and retinal tissues. The BSE infectious agent has never been found in muscle meat, which is the principle way beef is consumed in the American diet.

Producer-directed and consumer-focused, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association is the trade association of America’s cattle farmers and ranchers, and the marketing organization for the largest segment of the nation’s food and fiber industry.

Background Information

Because NCBA views compliance with the FDA feed regulation as a top priority, it is hosting a meeting in Washington, D.C. on Monday, Jan. 29 to discuss this issue. Planning for the meeting began last November. NCBA has invited officials of the FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine, the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the feed industry and the meatpacking and rendering industries to the meeting to discuss ensuring full compliance with the FDA rule.

This meeting is timely given today’s situation with the Texas feed mill, which discovered the potential mistake and notified the feed yard. The feed yard then ceased to use the supplement in question.

The cattle fed the supplement have been identified and are being voluntarily held pending FDA’s testing of feed samples. FDA expects to have the results of these tests early next week and will determine if meat and bone meal is present and, if so, in an amount sufficient to be of consequence.

This is not a safety issue. Ten years of USDA surveillance and testing of suspicious cattle has never found BSE or any similar disease in U.S. cattle. This is a regulatory/compliance issue, and as such, FDA is taking action.

For current information on BSE, CJD and new variant CJD, visit NCBA’s scientifically reviewed information resource at www.bseinfo.org.