Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), sometimes referred to as "mad cow disease", is a chronic degenerative disease affecting the central nervous system of cattle. A system of interlocking safeguards protects human and animal health, as well as food safety, in the United States.
Through applied research and developing technology, USDA helps to reduce economic losses of the livestock and poultry industries and the associated rural agricultural community from infectious, genetic, and metabolic diseases. This new technology also is aimed at prevention of suffering and death caused by diseases in agriculturally important livestock and poultry.
Consumers are concerned not only with characteristics such as the nutritive content of animal products, but also want assurances that food animals are raised in humane conditions and receive humane treatment during handling and slaughter. USDA tracks animal health and welfare issues as they relate to food safety and the production and availability of animals for processing into meat.
The Center for Veterinary Biologics regulates veterinary biologics, such as vaccines, bacterins, antisera, diagnostic kits, and other products of biological origin to ensure its safety and effectiveness.