In 1998 when the Food and Drug Administration announced its regulations to prevent any possibility of an outbreak of mad cow disease in the United States, investigators from The Feed and Fertilizer Control Service — a part of the Office of the Texas State Chemist at Texas A&M University — immediately began an extensive inspection program of all of Texas' 750 feed mills.

“There was a big push for every mill to be inspected for compliance and we finished that inspection within about three months, well ahead of other states,” said Dr. George Latimer of the Office of the Texas State Chemist.

“Although we have regularly and routinely inspected mills for compliance with the BSE regulations since that time, when the office received news that Canada had reported its first case of mad cow disease in more than a decade, it intensified its inspection efforts.”

During inspections, investigators observe each mill's day-to-day activities and take samples of ingredients used to make feed and of products stored on the floor or being produced by the mill. Those samples are examined and tested by Agricultural Analytical Services — also a part of the Office of the state chemist.

“When an investigator inspects a mill, he looks at the purchase orders to determine what ingredients the mill has been ordering, where it orders them from and, if they are receiving restricted-use materials, whether those materials are being kept strictly separated from other ingredients and are used in ways which ensure they do not get into ruminant feeds,”

Latimer said. “The investigator also examines the trucks delivering materials to see if they are being cleaned properly.”

Latimer said there shouldn't be a cause for concern regarding the U.S. beef supply.