U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., has reintroduced the Downed Animal and Food Safety Protection Act to permanently prohibit all downed livestock from entering the nation’s food chain.

The act (H.R. 3704) would require all unhealthy livestock unable to walk because of disease to be humanely euthanized, according to a news release from the congressman.

Ackerman said the legislation would protect the U.S. food supply from illnesses such as mad cow disease.

Downed cattle are 50 times more likely to have mad cow disease (also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or BSE) than ambulatory cattle that are suspected of having BSE, Ackerman said.

He introduced the legislation before, but it was ignored until 2003 when the first confirmed case of mad cow disease in the U.S. led the U.S. Department of Agriculture to use a temporary version of the act.

It was expanded in 2009 when the USDA banned the slaughtering of downed cattle, forcing them to be euthanized.

The legislation in its current form would permanently require all downed livestock to be humanely euthanized and close a loophole that currently allows the slaughter of downed calves, the release said.

Ackerman’s measure has been referred to the House Committee on Agriculture, where it is pending.