The United States has not imported processed beef, live cattle, semen, embryos, MBM, or other beef products from the UK since 1989. In 1990 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) began tracing the 496 UK cattle imported to the United States between 1981 and 1989 and found no traces of BSE among those they were able to locate. A surveillance program was begun that has examined thousands of brain tissue samples from slaughtered animals across 43 states without finding any evidence of BSE.
In 1991 the USDA began enforcing stringent restrictions on importations from other countries either known to have had cases of BSE or considered to have inadequate surveillance systems to detect the disease. The rendering of sheep for use in animal feed was discouraged, and risk analysis activities were pursued. In 1993 the slaughter surveillance program was expanded to include "downer" cattle in response to reports suggesting disabled cattle, those that are unable to stand without assistance, represent unrecognized cases of BSE. Downer cattle cannot stand for many different reasons including metabolic diseases, injured musculoskeletal systems, or systemic illness resulting in general weakness. BSE-affected cattle may be downers, but downers are not necessarily related to BSE.
On March 29, 1996, livestock and professional animal health organizations in the United States requested an American ban on the use of ruminant protein in ruminant feeds. In addition, these groups requested increased national surveillance, enhanced BSE educational activities, and expanded cooperative research efforts to provide extra measures to prevent the introduction of BSE into the United States. Replacing animal origin proteins for feeds in the United States will require about 3 million additional acres of soybean production (25).
In 1997 USDA banned the importation of live ruminants and most ruminant products from European countries, and the Food and Drug Administration announced a permanent prohibition of specified substances for use in ruminant feed.
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