On March 1, 2001 IBP initiated a program designed to help keep the U.S. cattle herd free of the disease bovine spongiform encephalopathy. IBP's network of cattle buyers began asking cattle suppliers to sign an affidavit verifying their cattle have not been fed prohibited proteins derived from ruminant animals. The Food and Drug Administration in 1997 banned the use of such ingredients in feed for ruminant animals such as cattle. The FDA ban was implemented in an effort to prevent the introduction of BSE into the United States.

"While we are confident cattle producers are abiding by this FDA rule, we believe this certification program will provide added assurance to our customers and the consumer," says Gene Leman, chief executive officer of the IBP Fresh Meats Company.

Livestock producers will be required by IBP to sign the affidavit semi-annually in order to continue supplying the company with cattle. IBP will conduct random, on-site audits of the feeding records of cattle suppliers to verify compliance.