Feds say mad cow system works

Far from being alarmed, USDA officials said the discovery of a Canadian cow that tested positive for mad cow disease shows the system works. The discovery came as the US prepared to lift a ban on Canadian beef imports put in place after a previous mad cow case. Ron DeHaven of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said the infected cow was born before Canada implemented its 1997 feed ban, and that no part of the animal entered the food system.

"USDA remains confident that the animal and public health measures that Canada has in place, including the removal of specified risk material (SRMs) from the human food chain, a ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban, a national surveillance program and import restrictions, combined with existing US domestic safeguards and the additional safeguards announced as part of USDA's BSE minimal-risk rule announced December 29, provide the utmost protections to US consumers and livestock," he said.

BT Act builds on already tight regs

FDA has moved a step closer to tightening record-keeping standards for the food industry. The agency has issued its final rule on record-keeping as part of its increased authority under the Bioterrorism Act, passed by Congress in 2002. The regulation requires manufacturers, processors, packers, distributors, receivers, holders and importers of food to keep specific records on their suppliers and customers, to make it easier to trace any questionable product as it moves through the food chain. Richard Jarman, vice president of food and environmental policy for the Food Products Association (FPA), says many food processors are already taking steps to ensure adequate food safety.

"It is important to recognize that these regulations build upon rigorous record keeping requirements already in place. In FPA's comments to FDA, we stressed the importance of ensuring that any changes to these record keeping regulations be designed to truly enhance the effectiveness of our nation's food security efforts," Jarman said.