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Six Months Later and Consumers Still at Risk

July 9, 2004

Six Months Later and Consumers Still at Risk

Statement by Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s food program

Today’s announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that it is again delaying the proposed rules regarding bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) is an extreme disappointment. 

The agency has broken the promise it made to American consumers on Jan. 26, when it announced that it was going to take immediate action to strengthen the firewalls against BSE.  At the time, Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson stated:  “Small as the risk may already be, this is the time to make sure the public is protected to the greatest extent possible.” 

It is nearly six months later, and the gaping holes in the animal feed ban still exist – with no specific date when those holes would actually be closed. It is obvious that the Bush administration has, once again, kowtowed to industry interests. We call on the administration to immediately issue an interim final rule that would close these holes.

We must ensure strong and vigilant surveillance of our meat safety system in order to protect consumers.  The FDA must work harder to protect the health and safety of the public.