Not So "Firewall," After All

"We believe FDA is overstating industry's compliance with the animal feed ban and understating the potential risk of (mad cow disease) for U.S. cattle in its reports to Congress and the American people," the Government Accountability Office concluded, in a report on the Food and Drug Administration's management of what government press releases refer to as the "firewall feed ban." The feed ban is "the most important U.S. safeguard against mad cow disease." The GAO report also took issue with FDA's claim of 99% industry compliance with the ban. That figure is "based on inspections of only about 570 firms," "does not include all serious violations," and counts as "compliant" firms "that lacked written procedures to prevent" ban violations, states the report.