[Federal Register: January 12, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 7)]
[Notices]               
[Page 1892]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr12ja04-135]                         



[[Page 1892]]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Food Safety and Inspection Service

[Docket No. 03-048N]

 
Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy Surveillance Program

AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is announcing 
that it will no longer pass and apply the mark of inspection to the 
carcasses and parts from cattle that are selected for testing by USDA's 
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) for Bovine 
Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) until the sample is determined to be 
negative.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Daniel L. Engeljohn, Ph.D., Executive 
Associate, Office of Policy and Program Development, Food Safety and 
Inspection Service, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20250-
3700; (202) 205-0495.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The mission of the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture (USDA) is to enhance the quality of life for the American 
people by ensuring a safe, affordable, nutritious, and accessible food 
supply. APHIS is responsible for ensuring animals and plant health. 
FSIS is responsible for protecting the Nation's meat, poultry, and egg 
products supply, making sure it is safe, wholesome, not adulterated, 
and properly labeled and packaged. These two agencies lead USDA's 
program activities for prevention, monitoring, and control of bovine 
spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and in the U.S. food supply. 
BSE, widely referred to as ``mad cow disease,'' is a chronic 
degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system (CNS) of 
cattle.
    To prevent the entry into commerce of meat and meat food products 
that are adulterated, FSIS inspection program personnel perform ante- 
and post-mortem inspection of cattle that are slaughtered in the United 
States. As part of the ante-mortem inspection, FSIS inspection program 
personnel look for symptoms of disease, including signs of CNS 
impairment. Cattle showing symptoms of certain diseases, including 
those exhibiting signs of neurologic impairment, are condemned, and the 
meat from these animals is not permitted for use as human food. The 
brains from cattle exhibiting signs of neurologic impairment are 
submitted to USDA's National Veterinary Services Laboratories for 
analysis.
    APHIS veterinarians also randomly collect brain samples from cattle 
that are believed to be at higher risk of BSE, including cattle older 
than 30 months and non-ambulatory cattle, as well as from other cattle 
that do not exhibit signs of neurologic impairment to be tested for 
BSE. Until recently, unless otherwise prohibited by an FSIS Veterinary 
Medical Officer, the meat from these animals was allowed to be 
processed for human food before the BSE sample results were received by 
FSIS and the establishment. FSIS recommended, but did not require, that 
slaughter establishments hold these carcasses until the sample results 
had been received.
    On December 23, 2003, APHIS diagnosed a presumptive-positive case 
of BSE in the brain of an adult Holstein cow in the State of 
Washington. This brain had been sampled by APHIS as part of its 
surveillance sampling program. On December 25, 2003, the International 
Reference Laboratory in Weybridge, England confirmed the diagnosis of 
BSE.
    In light of this finding, FSIS has concluded that, when APHIS takes 
a surveillance sample, it would be prudent for FSIS inspection program 
personnel not to apply the mark of inspection until the result from the 
APHIS testing is received by FSIS and the establishment, and the result 
is negative. Accordingly, FSIS will no longer allow these carcasses to 
be marked ``Inspected and passed'' until the sample testing has been 
completed, and the result is negative.
    FSIS is issuing a Directive to its inspection program personnel 
that sets out this course of action.

Additional Public Notification

    Public awareness of all segments of rulemaking and policy 
development is important. Consequently, in an effort to better ensure 
that minorities, women, and persons with disabilities are aware of this 
notice, FSIS will announce it and make copies of this Federal Register 
publication available through the FSIS Constituent Update. FSIS 
provides a weekly Constituent Update, which is communicated via 
Listserv, a free e-mail subscription service. In addition, the update 
is available on-line through the FSIS web page located at http://www.fsis.usda.gov.
 The update is used to provide information regarding 

FSIS policies, procedures, regulations, Federal Register notices, FSIS 
public meetings, recalls, and any other types of information that could 
affect or would be of interest to our constituents/stakeholders. The 
constituent Listserv consists of industry, trade, and farm groups, 
consumer interest groups, allied health professionals, scientific 
professionals, and other individuals that have requested to be 
included. Through the Listserv and web page, FSIS is able to provide 
information to a much broader, more diverse audience.
    For more information contact the Congressional and Public Affairs 
Office, at (202) 720-9113. To be added to the free e-mail subscription 
service (Listserv) go to the ``Constituent Update'' page on the FSIS 
Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/update/update.htm. Click on the 

``Subscribe to the Constituent Update Listserv'' link, then fill out 
and submit the form.

    Done at Washington, DC on January 7, 2004.
Garry L. McKee,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 04-627 Filed 1-8-04; 1:43 pm]