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State Information

Federal Initiatives

BSE response plan 

Immediate detection allows for swift response. As an emergency preparedness measure, USDA developed a BSE Response Plan to be initiated in the event that a case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) was ever diagnosed in the United States. The plan details comprehensive instructions for USDA agencies and agency personnel as to who is to do what, when, where, and how in the event that BSE were to be presumptively diagnosed in the United States.

On December 23, 2003, the first case of BSE in the United States was diagnosed by USDA. The plan was put into action as USDA prepared to send the samples to the World Reference Laboratory in the United Kingdom. On the morning on Dec. 25, the diagnosis was confirmed.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Response Plan Summary (USDA)

Agency regulations 

Agency regulation and inspection of slaughter facilities and the disposition of animals exhibiting certain symptoms are designed to keep unsafe products out of the human food supply.  In the wake of the December 2003 confirmed BSE diagnosis, regulations implementing new safeguards to bolster the U.S. protection systems against BSE were published in the Federal Register and became effective on January 12, 2004. The safeguards include one Notice on disposition of non-ambulatory, disabled (downer) cattle and three interim final rules related to beef products in human food.  

The U.S. government and feed, rendering, cattle, and meat industries use a "firewall strategy" to protect cattle herds and keep U.S. beef among the safest meat products in the world.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has been and is enforcing import restrictions as well as conducting surveillance for BSE to ensure that this serious disease does not become established in the United States.


Consumer services 

USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline
Consumers with food safety questions can phone the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline. The hotline is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time), Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.


Last Updated:4/26/2012 10:01 AM

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