May 26, 2024

FDA Asking for Comment on Mad Cow Risk in Cow Parts

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is asking for comments on its rule for cow parts that may be used to make human products. The interim rule, “Use of Materials Derived from Cattle in Human Food and Cosmetics” was published in 2005. It would allow the use of some cattle-derrived material, but prohibits the use of materials that can carry the infectious agent for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease.

FDAlogoThe rule was based on research that showed that part of the cow’s digestive tract called the distal ileum, which is a reservoir for BSE, can be safely removed from other parts of the small intestine.  That meant that the entire small intestine was no longer designated as “prohibited cattle material” and other parts could be used to make products for human consumption. The key here, however, is “proper” removal of the distal ileum.

More recent studies have shown that BSE does exist in other parts of the cow’s intestine, albeit in much lower levels.  Those levels are so low “they do not pose a significant helath risk to humans or ruminants in the U.S.” according to the FDA statement.

The press release states, “FDA does not believe there would be a measurable reduction in the risk from BSE to the American Public by removing additional parts of the cattle small intestine and, as such, it would be appropriate to finalize the interim final rule without changing any provisions related to the small intestine. Nonetheless, FDA is reopening the comment period to give interested parties an opportunity to comment on the studies and on FDA’s tentative conclusion.”

The World Health Organization agrees with the FDA’s position on this issue. You can comment on the interim final rule at the Federal Register. Submit your comment by clicking on the “Submit a Formal Comment” button on the upper right.


  1. Dave Louthan says

    That is so funny. “It’s got mad cow disease in it but not as much as some other parts so fire it up.”

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