McDonald's forcing beef industry to comply with mad-cow feed ban


Tuesday, March 13th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6



WASHINGTON (AP) _ In a move to keep mad cow disease out of the United States, McDonald's Corp. has ordered its beef suppliers to ensure that that the cattle they buy were fed in accordance with federal restrictions.

The fast-food giant has given meatpackers until April 1 to document compliance with the rules. The Food and Drug Administration reported recently that hundreds of feed makers had failed to comply with its feed regulations, which are intended to keep the brain-wasting disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy, from spreading if it ever reaches this country.

``Here in the U.S., it's always been BSE-free. We want to keep it that way,'' McDonald's spokesman Walt Riker said Tuesday.

McDonald's plans to audit its suppliers' documentation, he said.

The McDonald's action has had a ripple effect through the beef industry. Major beefpackers, including IBP Inc., have told their cattle suppliers they must document their compliance with the feed rules.

``If McDonald's is requiring something of their suppliers, it has a pretty profound effect,'' said Janet Riley, a spokeswoman for the American Meat Institute, which represents packers.

Mad cow is linked to a new version of the human Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Animals get the disease by eating the tissue of other infected animals, so the U.S. livestock industry in 1996 voluntarily banned sheep and certain other animal parts from U.S. feed.

The next year, the FDA formally banned any proteins from cows, sheep, goats, deer or elk _ animals that get similar brain-wasting diseases _ from being used as ingredients in feed for cows, sheep or goats. FDA also imposed paperwork and labeling restrictions associated with the ban.

About 1,200 Texas cattle were quarantined in January after they ate animal feed containing the banned ingredients. The feed maker, Purina Mills, told FDA it may have mistakenly mixed meat bone meal into a cow feed supplement.