Moving to further bolster U.S. firewalls for BSE prevention, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed in early October to extend the ban on certain high-risk cattle materials in animal feed to include pet foods. The ban has applied to cattle feed since 1997.

These high-risk cattle materials include: the brains and spinal cord from cattle 30 months of age and older, brains and spinal cord from cattle of any age not inspected and passed for human consumption, the entire carcass of cattle not inspected and passed for human consumption if the brains and spinal cords haven't been removed, tallow derived from materials prohibited by this proposed rule if the tallow contains more than 0.15% insoluble impurities, and mechanically separated beef derived from materials prohibited by this proposed rule.

USDA says the removal of high-risk materials from all animal feed, including pet food, will protect against the transmission of BSE agent through cross-contamination of ruminant feed with non-ruminant feed or feed ingredients during feed manufacture and transport, or intentional or unintentional mis-feeding of non-ruminant feed to ruminants on the farm.

The proposed rule still allows the use in animal feed of specified risk materials from cattle not in the above classes. The ruling also continues to allow the use of poultry litter, plate waste and blood products in feed production.