Following the discovery of BSE in a California dairy cow in April 2012, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted an extensive investigation of feed suppliers and found no violations or evidence of a feed source for the infection.
The animal, a 10-year-old Holstein, was euthanized after it developed severe lameness, and the renderer submitted tissue samples for analysis. Results from several laboratories confirmed that the cow was positive for atypical BSE. Investigators located and tested one offspring from the infected cow and confirmed it was negative for the disease. None of the meat from the index cow entered the food chain.
Over the past few months, the FDA, in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA), investigate the index dairy and obtained the cow’s lifetime feed history. The agencies then investigated 12 feed suppliers and reviewed their history of compliance with BSE feed regulations.
According to the FDA report, “Review of the BSE inspection histories found that compliance with BSE feed regulations was excellent. None of the facilities had used prohibited material in their feed manufacturing during the entire period of interest.”
One facility had minor deficiencies in its manufacturing practices for medicated feeds, requiring voluntary action. Prior to the period of interest, one firm was out of compliance in an April 2000 inspection because the firm had inadequate cleanout procedures and failed to label product potentially containing prohibited material with the required caution statement “do not feed to cattle or other ruminants”. The next inspection of that facility, in May 2001 – six months before the date of birth of the index cow – found that the facility no longer used prohibited material.
Six of the investigated facilities used only vegetable-origin protein sources in their feeds, while the other six used some animal-derived protein ingredients in compliance with FDA regulations. Three facilities distributed or sold pet food, but kept it separated from feed manufacturing in areas posted with signs warning against feeding to cattle or ruminants as required.
Results of the investigations support the original conclusion that the April BSE case was of the “atypical” variety that appears to occur spontaneously in extremely rare cases. The 1997 “feed ban” and 2008 “enhanced feed rule” are working as intended to prevent BSE in the United States.
Read more from the FDA.