NMPF Statement in Support of USDA Decision to End Use of Downer Cattle

Release date: May 20,2008
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The following statement was issued by Jerry Kozak, President and CEO of the National Milk Producers Federation, in response to the announcement today by federal regulators concerning the status of regulations prohibiting the processing of nonambulatory cattle:
“The National Milk Producers Federation is pleased that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will move now to ensure that all nonambulatory, or downer, cattle, are kept out of the human food supply.

On April 22, NMPF, along with the American Meat Institute and the National Meat Association, jointly sponsored a citizen petition requesting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture eliminate a regulation allowing a government veterinarian to reinspect animals that become nonambulatory after they initially pass ante-mortem inspection. In some cases, animals that become downers at meat processing facilities can, under present regulations, be reinspected and approved by government inspectors for further processing if the animal is found not to pose a food safety concern.

The USDA announced Tuesday that it is beginning a process of revising its regulations to close that loophole.

It’s clear that the government recognizes what we in the food industry also acknowledge: consumer confidence is tied to perceptions about the quality and safety of animals in the food supply. This clarification of the rules preventing nonambulatory cattle from entering the food chain is a necessary development as much for what it says about consumer perception as its impact on food safety.”

A copy of the citizens petition can be found here.
The National Milk Producers Federation, based in Arlington, VA, develops and carries out policies that advance the well being of dairy producers and the cooperatives they own. The members of NMPF’s 31 cooperatives produce the majority of the U.S. milk supply, making NMPF the voice of more than 40,000 dairy producers on Capitol Hill and with government agencies.