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Mad Cow Ban Now Covers Cosmetics

Closing loopholes in protections against mad cow disease, the Food and Drug Administration on Friday banned using brains and other cattle parts that could carry the disease's infectious agent from use in cosmetics and dietary supplements.

The action puts the agency's restrictions in line with those issued by the Agriculture Department to keep those cattle parts out of meat after the brain-wasting disease was found in December in a Holstein cow in Washington state.

The ban affects products made from animals 30 months of age and older, the age at which the government has said the brain-wasting disease can be found. The restrictions prohibit the use of the brain and spinal cord, where the misshapen proteins blamed for mad cow disease are considered most likely to be found.

Mad cow disease is also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. People who eat meat containing the misshapen proteins, known as prions, face a risk of contracting a rare but fatal human condition, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

"Today's actions continue our strong commitment to public health protections against BSE," said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson.

HHS continues to study even tougher measures, including tighter record keeping by manufacturers, processing equipment designed to prevent contamination, and a national animal identification system, reports CBS News Correspondent Barry Bagnato.

The goal is to block transmission of the prions through feed.

The proposed restrictions would remove the risky materials from all animal feed, including pet food, to protect against the possibility that feed containing the prions could wind up fed to cattle even though it was meant for other species.

The government also is considering a ban on all feed use of materials from animals that die on farms or which are taken to slaughterhouses but cannot stand up. The aim is to guard against the possibility that such animals could have BSE that could get passed into the supply chain.

Another proposal is a ban on the use of all mammalian and poultry protein in feed for cud-chewing animals, which include sheep as well as cattle. Sheep can get scrapie, a condition similar to BSE.

The feed restrictions are in line with the recommendations made by an international review panel created by the Agriculture Department in February. The government provided a period for public comment on the proposed rules.