Riding Herd on Mad Cow Disease
This lack of enforcement is especially evident in terms of vaccines, for which the FDA has chosen to issue a guidance document rather than new regulations, Lurie says. "The FDA, unfortunately, has the predilection for giving advice rather than regulation," Lurie tells WebMD.
But considering that these regulations were passed just three years ago, Lumpkin says these figures demonstrate that American processors actually are moving toward 100% compliance with FDA regulations. Lumpkin says that the FDA often elects to issue guidance documents rather than regulations because the rule-making process takes considerable time.
"With time, as our knowledge base becomes stronger, regulations could also be passed," he tells WebMD.
Still, there is a chance that a case of the human form of mad cow disease could occur in the U.S., despite the federal regulations, Lumpkin warns. "One thing we have learned about this disease is nothing is a 100%," he tells WebMD.
But Lumpkin says that case of the disease, should it occur, would not necessarily mean that federal regulations had failed Americans. In fact, the origin might not even be American cattle, he notes.
The federal government is fairly confident that it can at least minimize that type of risk, he tells WebMD.