This week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a delay in implementing the rule, “Substances Prohibited From Use in Animal Food or Feed,” originally published April 25, 2008 in the Federal Register. The final rule, which was set to take effect April 27, is now delayed 60 days until June 26.

Commonly referred to as the 2008 BSE final rule, it established measures to strengthen existing safeguards against BSE by prohibiting high-risk animal tissues thought to cause BSE from animal feed – specifically brains and spinal cords from cattle 30 months of age and older. It also prohibits using the entire carcass of cattle not inspected and passed for human consumption, unless cattle are under 30 months of age, or the brains and spinal cords have been removed.

As one can imagine, this presents many challenges to the rendering industry – specifically in being able to identify and document cattle of a certain age. The National Renderers Association in 2005 published a 47-page report on the economic impacts of these proposed changes (nationalrenderers.org/assets/economic_impacts_of_proposed_december_2005.pdf).

FDA is finally acknowledging that affected businesses, particularly in the rendering industry, are experiencing difficulties modifying their operations, and may be unable to fully comply by the original April 27 date. As such, FDA is providing a seven-day public comment period solely on the question of whether to delay the effective date.

But the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) is also stoked up over FDA opening a comment period solely on delaying the implementation of a new feed ban, rather than on the entire rule itself.

“Cattle producers across the country have been suffering as a result of this proposed rule months before it is scheduled to take effect,” explains Elizabeth Parker, NCBA chief veterinarian, in a news release. “Members of Congress and the Senate have joined NCBA in petitioning FDA to reopen the rule itself for public comment so that the people impacted by the rule can share their stories. Instead, FDA is only allowing seven days of comments on whether to delay the implementation of the rule by 60 days. This is a weak and ineffective response to the issues already arising from this ill-considered action.”

Comments must be received by April 16 to the Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Electronic comments may be submitted at www.regulations.gov, or fax comments to 301-827-6870. Identify all submissions with the following docket number: FDA–2002–N–0031 (formerly Docket No. 2002N–0273) and Regulatory Information Number (RIN 0910AF46).