Thought this might interest some of you who are following the
BSE/prion thang. From ProMED mail list.
BSE, TALLOW SAFETY - USA
A ProMED-mail post
Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 23:58:16 -0400 (EDT)
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory committee will vote
Thursday morning on whether the agency should relax rules on tallow
and its derivatives related to the threat of mad cow disease.
The panel will also determine if more rules are needed regarding
gelatin and the human brain covering, dura mater, which is sometimes
transplanted during surgery.
At its meeting Wednesday, the FDA's transmissible spongiform
encephalopathies advisory committee heard from industry
representatives who insisted tallow products are safe.
The committee explored tallow's uses and manufacturing processes as it
discussed the threat of bovine spongiform encephalopathies, commonly
called mad cow disease, in light of European outbreaks of the disease.
Tallow is made from cooked animal remains including bones, hides and
muscles taken from places like slaughterhouses, restaurants and
butchers. The remains are cooked and the resulting oily substance is
used in thousands of products. The FDA panel is only concerned with
its use in foods, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Tallow and its
derivatives can be found in contact lenses, lipstick, lotion, soap,
cooking oil, capsules and tablets.
Dr. John Bailey, director of the FDA's office of cosmetics and colors,
asked the panel to "assess the safety of imported and domestic tallow
and tallow derivatives."
Dr. David Taylor, a representative from Scotland's Institute for
Animal Health, said there have been 167,336 confirmed cases of mad cow
disease in Great Britain.
According to industry representatives, edible tallow doesn't contain
heads, eyes or spinal cords, which are considered infectious
Mitch Kilanowski, of Darling International Inc. (DAR), an Irving,
Texas, re cycler of food processing by-products, spoke to the
committee about the market for tallow.
He said 1.45 billion pounds of edible tallow are produced each year in
the U.S. Almost 6.5 billion pounds of inedible tallow are produced.
"Tallow to us is the building block used to make many products," said
Dr. Charles R. Green, a director in the Soap and Detergent
Association. Dr. Philip Merrell of Mallinckrodt Chemical said
virtually every solid drug used contains magnesium stearate, a tallow
derivative. Mallinckrodt Chemical, a unit of Mallinckrodt Inc. (MKG),
is the largest supplier of magnesium stearate.
"In pharmaceuticals, 1.5 million to 2 million pounds of magnesium
stearate are used annually," Merrell said.
Stan P. Gorak, of ICI Americas, spoke about the manufacturing process
for polysorbates, another tallow derivative.
Although polysorbates can be made from vegetable sources, tallow is
widely used because it is less expensive and more readily available,
Dennis Walker, of Proctor & Gamble Co., said "in our estimation tallow
contains no discernable risk of (mad cow) infectivity."
Michele Gale-Sinex, communications manager
Center for Integrated Ag Systems
UW-Madison College of Ag and Life Sciences
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