WATCHDOG GROUPS CALL FOR BSE SAFEGUARDS

WASHINGTON (FNS) -- Two nutrition watchdog groups have called for the immediate ban in the U.S. of livestock feed containing remains of cattle and sheep, saying this step is needed to safeguard against an outbreak of the so-called Mad Cow disease that has plagued Great Britain for several months.The suspected connections between the use of feed containing rendered animal bones and tissues and the

WASHINGTON (FNS) -- Two nutrition watchdog groups have called for the immediate ban in the U.S. of livestock feed containing remains of cattle and sheep, saying this step is needed to safeguard against an outbreak of the so-called Mad Cow disease that has plagued Great Britain for several months.

The suspected connections between the use of feed containing rendered animal bones and tissues and the fatal brain disease, known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, are too strong to continue the feeding practice, according to the Public Voice for Food and Health Policy and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

While the Food and Drug Administration plans to issue regulations in coming weeks banning the use of ruminant parts in the feed of other ruminants, Public Voice wants the agency to issue an interim ban pending release of the new rules.

The physicians group, which advocates a total vegetarian diet, wants an immediate ban of the use of all animal-containing feed, even when it's fed to poultry. The cattle industry has already asked for herd owners to voluntarily stop using the animal-containing feed, but it's still being consumed.

Although FDA scientists don't consider the feeding of animal-containing feed to ruminants an imminent health hazard, they are concerned enough to expedite the regulatory process banning the practice. An FDA spokeswoman called the action "another layer of protection."

There haven't been any recorded cases in the U.S. of Mad Cow disease, which is transmitted via proteins and cannot be killed through cooking the meat. Since 1989, the importation of cattle or its by-products has been banned and the USDA has continued monitoring for the disease's presence.