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    FDA Proposes New Rules to Avoid 'Mad Cow'

    Rules Would Cover All Animal Food, Including Pet Food

    Risk is 'Very, Very Low' continued...

    "Greater than 400,000 cattle at high risk were tested for BSE [by the USDA] and only one native-born animal was found to have this disease," Stephen Sundlof, DVM, PhD, told reporters.

    "This indicates that the amount of infectivity circulating in the United States cattle population is very, very low. This proposed rule removes 90% of any remaining infectivity in that population, therefore reducing a very, very small risk to [an] even smaller [risk]."

    Cows younger than 30 months don't appear to have the infectious agent believed to cause mad cow disease at high enough concentrations to spread the disease to other cattle, Sundlof said.

    Blood Issue

    The proposed new rules don't cover cattle blood and several other body parts.

    "We've spent a lot of time researching infectivity of all tissues, and cattle blood does not appear to be a tissue which is capable of transmitting the disease from one cow to another cow, which is the most susceptible species," Sundlof said.

    "I think even though there are some researchers who are concerned about blood, experimentally it has not been shown to be able to transmit the disease, and world standards are now going in the direction that blood and blood products from cattle, even in BSE-positive countries, can be traded internationally without health concerns," he said.

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