The Food and Drug Administration this week announced a delay in the implementation of the final rule, titled "Substances Prohibited from Use in Animal Food or Feed," or more commonly referred to as the 2008 BSE final rule.

The final rule, which would have gone into effect on April 27 is now delayed 60 days to June 26. The agency is taking this action in response to comments from affected parties expressing concerns about their ability to fully comply with the rule by the April 27 effective date. In addition, some affected parties are finding it difficult to identify appropriate alternate ways of disposing of material that may no longer be rendered for animal feed use once the rule takes effect.

Citing concerns that the enhanced ban goes beyond what is dictated by existing research to prevent the spread of BSE, NCBA spokesperson Elizabeth Parker said that the rule has created several unintended consequences.

“This rule has essentially ended rendering services in many parts of the country and left producers with no legal alternatives,” Parker said. “These are 1,200-pound animals. It is unrealistic and simplistic to think that producers can dispose of them in their backyards. The environmental and economic consequences are enormous, and FDA has the responsibility to consider those concerns before implementing this rule.”

While the enhanced feed ban is well-intended as a means of protecting food safety and consumer confidence, it will cause hardship and expense for producers who need to dispose of dead animals.

Rendering services have become increasingly expensive or even unavailable, sometimes resulting in improper disposal of dead cattle. NCBA has opposed the ban and expresses disappointment in FDA’s decision to simply delay implementation rather than take public comment on the ban itself.

Current feed regulations, in place since 1997, are working, NCBA says, with the incidence of BSE in the United States exceedingly rare. For more on the FDA rule, click here. To read NCBA’s full statement, click here. — John Maday, Drovers managing editor.