FDA Acts on Mad Cow Disease

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WASHINGTON: Perhaps the old saying that nobody should watch sausage being made, unless they really want to know what is in it, applies to commercially-raised beef. In an attempt to protect American consumers against Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease, the Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday it is preparing to ban the use of animal parts in livestock feed. The measure is intended to erect a barrier which will help prevent any possible transmission of the illness from the feeding trough to the dinner table. "If we don't take preventive action today, we may regret it three to four years down the road," explained FDA Commissioner David Kessler. "By saying that cattle and sheep cannot be fed any products that cause this disease, we are in essence erecting a fire wall that will reduce whatever risk humans have even further." Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, an often-fatal human condition similar to "mad cow disease," attacks brain tissue. Scientists believe cows become infected by consuming feed containing animal parts, which are sometimes used to increase the protein content of their food. In Britain, where at least ten people have died of Creutzfeldt-Jakob during the past two years, scientists believe that meat from infected sheep made beef cattle ill, and triggered the human disease in some people who consumed the beef. Following Britain's lead, the American livestock industry last year voluntarily banned all sheep products in livestock feed. But the FDA's new measure will extend this ban further: no cows could be fed anything made with cow, goat, deer, elk or mink parts. Cow blood, gelatin and milk, however, will remain acceptable food ingredients for cattle, as they are not believed to harbor the illness. How about a nice salad?