Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, and the Food Animals Concern Trust (FACT), a Chicago-based animal welfare organization, presented a petition signed by 37,000 people to the US FDA asking the agency to ban the practice of feeding poultry waste to cattle.
Poultry waste, known as "poultry litter", is generally comprised of feces, sawdust, feathers, spilled feed, and anything else that might accumulate on the floor of a chicken or turkey coop. The byproduct is added to livestock feed because it has nutritional value and it is cheap.
The FDA estimates that cattle are fed between 1-2 mln t of poultry litter annually. The consumers groups believe feeding poultry litter to cattle presents a serious risk to human and animal health.
Eleven national organizations endorsed the petition, including the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). McDonald's Corp., the nation's largest beef purchaser, also wants the FDA to ban the practice.
The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA), a powerful trade group for the beef industry, said the ban is not necessary. "Science does not justify the ban, and the FDA has looked at this now many times," Elizabeth Parker, NCBA's chief veterinarian told the Los Angeles Times.
The FDA has until November 11, 2009 to respond to the petition.
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