A January 13 press release from the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Veterinary Medicine indicates that feed enforcement activities to limit the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) appear to be successful.

BSE and human Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) belong to the unusual group of progressively degenerative neurological diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). TSE diseases are characterized by long incubation periods ranging from several months for transmissible mink encephalopathy, to several years for BSE. During the incubation period there is no visible indication of the disease.

FDA has published two rules to protect animals and consumers against BSE by prohibiting the use of most mammalian protein in the manufacture of animals feeds given to ruminant animals and by removing high-risk materials from all animal feed. These rules were published in 1997 and 2008.

The new report, January 2011 Update on Feed Enforcement Activities to Limit the Spread of BSE, summarizes the inspection reports and reflects the compliance status for both rules. Firms included renderers, licensed and unlicensed feed mills, on-farm mixers, protein blenders, pet food manufacturers, animal feed salvagers, distributors, retailers and animal feed transporters. As of January 8, 2011, FDA had received over 83,000 inspection reports since 1997. Approximately 73% of these inspections have been conducted by State feed control officials, with the remainder conducted by FDA officials.

Inspections conducted by FDA or State investigators are classified to reflect the compliance status at the time of the inspection based upon the objectionable conditions documented. These inspection conclusions are reported as Official Action Indicated (OAI), Voluntary Action Indicated (VAI), or No Action Indicated (NAI).

Total firms
Out of the total firms inspected:
• Number of active firms whose initial inspection has been reported to FDA – 31,188
• Number of active firms handling materials prohibited from use in ruminant feed – 9285 (30% of those active firms inspected)
• Of the 9285 active firms handling prohibited materials, their most recent inspection revealed that:
         o 0 firms (0%) were classified as OAI
         o 151 firms (1.6%) were classified as VAI

While the FDA report does not give an analysis if this information is good, bad or ugly, it seems on face value that firms of all types that handle animal products have really stepped up to make sure ruminant proteins do not find their way into animal feed products, and potentially into the human food supply, in accordance with the regulations set forth by the FDA.

Geni Wren
Editor, Bovine Veterinarian Magazine