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From: TSS (
Subject: Despite ban, livestock feed can still be contaminated
Date: November 27, 2004 at 8:00 am PST

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Despite ban, livestock feed can still be contaminated
Date: Sat, 27 Nov 2004 10:12:30 -0600
From: "Terry S. Singeltary Sr."
To: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy

Despite ban, livestock feed can still be contaminated

Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON — Seven years after the federal government banned feeding
ground-up cows to other cows to stop the spread of a fatal brain-wasting
disease, manufacturers still are occasionally distributing contaminated
livestock feed.

Cows can get mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, by
eating meat or tissues from infected animals. And humans who eat the
infected meat can get a similar disease that's usually fatal.

In 1997, the Food and Drug Administration banned livestock feed from
containing material from ruminants, which are animals like cattle,
sheep, goats and deer. And yet:

# In October, Farmers Elevator Co. of Houston, Ohio, voluntarily recalled
more than 100 tons of feed meant for livestock, sheep, goats and deer
because it may have contained protein from other ruminants.
# In July, Fresno Farming of Traver, Calif., initiated a recall of an
unknown volume of bulk corn because it may have been contaminated with
ruminant meat and bone meal.
# In April, the state of Wisconsin ordered Crivitz Feed Mill to recall 515
pounds of deer feed manufactured for a local farm that was apparently
contaminated with ruminant meat.

Six other companies this year recalled feed that they manufactured for
horses, pigs and chickens that contained ruminant meat or bone meal and
lacked required labels warning farmers not to feed it to their cattle.
It is still legal to feed ruminant meat to pigs, chickens and horses.
"Why is this still happening?" asked Donna Rosenbaum, who sits on the
board of directors of Safe Tables Our Priority, a consumer food safety
group. "It's amazing to me that this is still happening years and years
after we know this is not a smart thing to do."

According to the Food and Drug Administration — the federal agency that
polices animal feed manufacturers — there are a number of reasons
contaminated feed still winds up in the hands of farmers. Among them:
Proper procedures aren't followed, new personnel don't know the
procedures, suppliers change or equipment fails.

"There can be an honest manufacturing mistake, where material is
inadvertently put in ruminant feed by mistake," said Randy Gordon,
spokesman for the National Grain and Feed Association, the trade group
that represents most U.S. feed manufacturers. "The violation rate is
extremely low."

Compliance with the feed rules is better than 99 percent, FDA Deputy
Commissioner Lester Crawford told the Senate agriculture committee
earlier this year. The FDA, together with state feed inspectors, checks
each manufacturer once a year, Crawford said.

Gordon said roughly 556 companies nationwide manufacture or blend animal
feed that contains ruminant proteins. About half of those companies also
manufacture feed for ruminants.

Violators can be put out of business, Gordon said. That nearly happened
just once, in July 2003, when X-Cel Feeds Inc. of Tacoma, Wash.,
repeatedly failed to clean its equipment between manufacturing runs.
Company officials admitted to manufacturing contaminated feed and agreed
to change their procedures.

The Government Accountability Office — Congress' nonpartisan
investigatory arm — released a report in January 2002 criticizing the
FDA's animal feed inspection program. The report, which is being
updated, found that the FDA had not acted promptly to compel companies
to keep ruminant proteins out of cattle feed and to label animal feed
that cannot be fed to cattle. The report said companies that were
violating the rules had not been re-inspected for two or more years. In
some cases, no enforcement action had occurred even though the companies
had been found in violation in multiple inspections.

FDA officials responded to the report by pointing out that it took time
to train field personnel, educate the industry and coordinate with
states on inspections. Congress did not give the agency any additional
resources to put the feed ban in place, they said.

"This required nearly a whole new infrastructure from that which was
previously in place to conduct inspections of manufacturers engaged in
the production of (already regulated) medicated animal feeds," the
agency said in its written response.

Meanwhile, in Montgomery County, agricultural experts are continuing to
keep a close watch for even the most remote indications of mad cow
disease on area livestock farms. Extension Agent Rusty Evans said there
have never been signs of the disease here, and officials want to keep it
that way.

Evans said a sophisticated animal identification program should help
keep any future threat at bay.

Leaf-Chronicle Business Editor Jimmy Settlecontributed to this report.

Originally published November 27, 2004


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