On April 26, 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) issued a statement concerning the recent announcement confirming a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (“BSE”). The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (“USDA”) announcement confirming and explaining this case may be accessed here. According to the USDA, the particular cow involved was a dairy cow, and thus never had contact with any animals intended to enter the nation’s food supply.
BSE, more commonly known as “mad-cow disease” is a deadly neurological disease in cattle that causes degeneration in the brain and spinal cord. The disease may be spread from diseased cattle to humans through the consumption of food contaminated by infected animals. Thus, it is critical that the federal government closely monitors the nation’s food supply to thwart the spread of this disease. According to the USDA, the recent BSE case is an isolated incident and involved an animal that never entered the food supply. Accordingly, the USDA notes that there is no threat for individuals consuming beef. More information about the BSE outbreak may be accessed here.
While the USDA oversees agricultural products, including cattle, to ensure that the nation’s food supply is safe for human consumption. In addition, the FDA is responsible for ensuring that those products not specifically covered by USDA regulations are safe for consumers, including other foods and dietary supplement products, many containing components of beef. Thus, the jurisdiction of the USDA and FDA has some overlap. While the current mad-cow case is within the primary responsibility of the USDA, the FDA’s statement highlights the cooperation between the federal agencies.