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The Library of Congress - Thomas
United States Senate



Food Safety

Senator Akaka is a leader in the national effort to ensure food and consumer safety. He has been on the forefront in urging Congress to address the safety of our food supply. He has introduced legislation, the Downed Animal Protection Act, to protect human health and shield the U.S. livestock industry from economic distress by setting uniform nationwide standards to euthanize downed animals and remove them from the processing line for animal products consumed by humans. Non-ambulatory livestock or downed animals, many of which are dying from infectious diseases, should not enter our food chain.

Recent studies have found that mad cow disease is present in a higher percentage of downed livestock than in the general cattle population. In 2003, before a case of mad cow disease, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), was discovered in Washington state, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) was aware that downed animals are one of the most significant potential pathways that have not been addressed in previous efforts to reduce risks from mad cow disease. After the discovery of BSE in December 2003, USDA implemented most of the recommendations contained in Senator Akaka's legislation through regulation. While Senator Akaka is pleased that many of his recommendations on protecting our food chain from non-ambulatory livestock have been implemented by the USDA through regulations, he is committed to the expansion and codification of these regulations.

In addition, Senator Akaka has also introduced legislation, the Pet Protection and Safety Act, that

would strengthen the AWA by prohibiting the use of class B dealers as suppliers of dogs and cats to research laboratories. More importantly, it preserves the integrity of animal research by encouraging research laboratories to obtain animals from legitimate sources that comply with the AWA. Under the AWA, class B animal dealers are defined as individuals whose business includes the purchase, sale, or transport of animals in commerce, including dogs and cats intended for use at research facilities. To the dismay of animal welfare advocates and pet owners, some class B, or "random source," dealers have resorted to theft and deception to collect animals for resale. In many instances these animals were found living under inhumane conditions.

As recently as August of 2003, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agents executed a warrant to investigate a class B dealer from Arkansas suspected of violations of the AWA for the second time in several years. Many claims were levied against this dealer, and approximately 125 dogs were seized by federal agents during this week-long search. On January 28, 2005, the civil trial against this class B dealer was settled and the dealer and others associated with the business had their licenses permanently revoked. In addition, fines up to $262,700 were imposed by the USDA, which included a personal civil penalty of $12,700. The dealer also is prohibited from engaging in any activities under which the licenses were revoked for 5 years.

While this case resulted in a landmark settlement, if it were not for an outside organization that filed a complaint with the USDA, this class B dealer could still be in operation today. Due to Senator Akaka’s efforts to ensure that dealers such as the one in Arkansas are unable to acquire, house, and sell pets, he was able to highlight this problem to Senate appropriators by including an amendment to the Agriculture Appropriations Act for FY 2006 that would prohibit research facilities that receive federal funds from utilizing animal obtained from class B dealers. Upon enactment, this provision was amended to direct the Secretary of Agriculture to report to the Appropriations committees of the House and Senate on the enforcement actions the Department is taking to regulate Class B animal dealers. This is a first step and Senator Akaka continues to pursue his legislation to ensure the integrity of animal research.


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