FDA revisits rule on cow intestines in food, cosmetics

The action follows new research finding portions of a cow’s intestines that were previously thought to be immune from bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as mad cow disease, show signs of “infectivity.”

ADVERTISEMENT
In 2004, FDA issued a rule in prohibiting certain cattle parts — including small intestines — from entering food for human consumption or cosmetics. The regulations were meant to protect the public from the deadly disease. A year later, the agency amended the rule to allow small intestines into the food supply, as long as a part called the distal ileum was removed.

Since then, peer-reviewed science has found other parts of cow intestines and colons could also carry the disease, though the danger is believed to be low, according to FDA.

“We tentatively conclude that the effect of these traces of infectivity on the risk of human or ruminant exposure to BSE in the United States is negligible,” the agency wrote.

Still, officials are reopening the public comment period, as they consider strengthening the rule in light of the new research. Monday begins the start of a new 60-day comment period.