RegulatoryWatch: FDA restricts import of European animal products

The order puts an outright ban on some products.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has imposed restrictions on the import of European animal products after Britain's outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) spread to the continent. The restrictions, spelled out in CFR 9, parts 94-98, ban some products outright while placing restrictions on others. The agency temporarily prohibited the importation of swine and ruminant, any fresh swine or ruminant meat (chilled or frozen) and other products of swine and ruminants from the European Union. The ban does not include cooked pork products. The FMD crises began in late February when it was first detected among British livestock. Three weeks later, it had spread to France. FMD is a highly contagious and economically devastating disease of ruminants and swine. The United States has been free of FMD since 1929, but U.S. officials are taking no chances with the highly contagious disease. FMD is one of the animal diseases that livestock owners dread most because it spreads widely and rapidly and because it has grave economic consequences. Humans are not susceptible to the disease.

Listeria risk evaluated among 20 food types

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducted a joint study of 20 food categories for public health risk from listeria monocytogenes, finding meat and seafood are among the most susceptible. Dairy industry representatives praised the Risk Assessment and Action Plan, saying the results show low risk dairy foods should be candidates for less government regulation. Listeriosis can be a health risk to pregnant women, the very old, the very young, and people with immune deficiencies. "Right now there is a zero tolerance for foods containing any trace of listeria monocytogenes. The study shows very small traces in foods like ice cream do not pose a public health risk, so we would like to see some review of regulations in that area," said Cary Frye, vice president for Regulatory Affairs at the International Dairy Foods Association. She said such a change in regulations would save processors millions of dollars in costly product recalls when very small traces of listeria monocytogenes are found. Frozen desserts and heat-treated cheese also showed relatively low health risks. "FDA did a good job, providing a very good scientific analysis," Frye said.

EPA issues biotech rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says the "split pesticide registration" that allowed StarLink corn to be approved solely for use as animal feed is no longer an option for products produced by biotechnology. At the same time, the federal agency released a draft paper examining how food processing affects levels of the StarLink protein in finished food. EPA says the paper serves as a follow-up to last fall's meeting of EPA's Scientific Advisory Panel to evaluate the available scientific information on how the wet-milling process affects levels of the StarLink protein, also known as Cry9C, in food products. The document explains that StarLink corn, which undergoes the wet-milling process, contains essentially no residues of StarLink protein in finished human food. In contrast, food products from the dry milling process do contain protein. In an unrelated development, USDA announced the purchase of hybrid corn seed containing the protein Cry9C from small corn seed companies. This program is another step by the federal government to contain the movement of corn seed with the protein Cry9C.

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