WASHINGTON, DC — December 30, 2003 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) “has fortified the firewalls protecting the public against exposure to meat from cattle with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease,” said Tim Hammonds, president and CEO of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), commenting on new BSE safeguards announced today by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

“The USDA, acting together with the Food and Drug Administration, has adopted or even strengthened the high-priority recommendations we have made for improving our nation's BSE firewalls,” Hammonds said. He cited, in particular, the ban on downer cows and withholding animals being tested for BSE from the human food chain until those tests prove to be negative. (FMI’s recommendations are detailed in “Strengthening BSE Policy in the United States,” released in July 2003 and updated this December. They are available at www.fmi.org.)

Hammonds added, “We believe the new international scientific review panel will address any remaining issues in an appropriate manner.

“This quick and effective action should be a great comfort to our consumers and our trading partners.”