NPPC Concerned About BSE Ban For Hogs

WASHINGTON, D.C. - As a result of BSE being found in North America, the USDA banned all high-risk “downer“ cattle in the human food supply. The ban has potentially created a huge and costly problem for U.S. pork producers regarding fatigued/non-ambulatory hogs.
calendar icon 12 September 2006
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According to Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) figures, between 0.8 percent and 1 percent of these animals (800,000-900,000) become non-ambulatory from fatigue or injury during transport or shortly after unloading. Condemning these hogs would create disposal and animal protein supply problems. NPPC is working on a white paper to assess the economic impact on the U.S. pork industry.

In January 2004, USDA published its Interim Final Rule regarding the disposition of non-ambulatory “disabled“ cattle. The rule for cattle is final. However, legislators want to expand it to other species.

For the past several years, prior to any finding of BSE in North America, Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) and Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-HI) have introduced The Downed Animal Protection Act. The Act directs the Secretary of Agriculture to develop regulations addressing the humane treatment, handling, and disposition of non-ambulatory livestock, including the requirement that they be humanely euthanized. Further, the bills prohibit such animals from being inspected and passed into the human food supply.

During recent House floor debates on the FY 2004 Agriculture Appropriations bill, Rep. Ackerman offered an amendment that would have prohibited the use of funds for inspecting, for human consumption, meat from “downed animals,“ including swine. The amendment was defeated 202-199. In 2005, NPPC worked with various legislators to preclude him from offering such an amendment. On the Senate side, during debate on the FY 2004 and the FY 2006 Appropriations bills, Sen. Akaka (D-HI) offered a similar amendment. The Akaka amendment was approved by a voice vote. Subsequently, NPPC worked with Conferees to successfully strip this language out of the final Conference report.

On September 28, 2005, Rep. Ackerman filed H.R. 3931 with 138 cosponsors [see attached list of cosponsors]. On the same day, Sen. Akaka filed S.1779 with 23 cosponsors [see attached list of cosponsors].

Excluding non-ambulatory, “high-risk“ cattle from the food supply is an appropriate regulatory response to the discovery of BSE in a cow in the U.S. Scientific evidence has not shown that hogs are susceptible to BSE. Non-ambulatory or fatigued pigs are inspected by FSIS veterinarians for fitness to be passed into the human food supply. The great majority of these pigs recover with rest and are processed without affecting either food safety or meat quality.

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