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WASHINGTON -- FDA Deputy Commissioner Lester M. Crawford, DVM, PhD, will leave for Japan and Korea Jan. 20 as part of the U.S. government's delegation to discuss bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, also known as mad cow disease) with Japanese and Korean officials.
The U.S. delegation, which will discuss scientific and trade implications of the first confirmed BSE case in this country, includes scientific, regulatory, and trade officials from FDA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the U.S. Trade Representative.
Crawford will serve as the delegation's expert on all FDA-related aspects of BSE, particularly the FDA's "animal feed" rule, designed to help prevent the spread of BSE in this country by prohibiting the feeding of most mammalian protein to ruminant animals such as cows, sheep and goats. Compliance with this rule, which took effect in 1997 and is enforced by FDA, is high: more than 99 percent of the facilities that handle protein prohibited by this rule to be in ruminant feed fully comply with the regulation.
Since the first case of BSE in the U.S. was discovered in Washington state last month, FDA has focused intensely on possible improvements to this regulation that provides a crucial barrier against BSE in the U.S. In late 2002, FDA published a public notice concerning additional potential measures. That notice is available online at www.fda.gov/ohrms/dockets/98fr/110602c.htm.
FDA remains committed to taking the appropriate actions to protect humans and animals against BSE. As always, FDA's actions to promote public health will be based on the best scientific evidence available.
Crawford, a veterinarian and pharmacologist, has served as FDA's deputy commissioner since early 2002. Previously, he had twice worked as the director of FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine; he has also served as the Administrator of USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service. Crawford is a Fellow of both the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine and the Royal Society of Medicine (UK).