WASHINGTON (AP) – The government is outlawing cattle blood in livestock feed and the use of cow brains and other parts in dietary supplements, part of broader restrictions in wake of the nation’s first known case of mad cow disease.

The Food and Drug Administration announced the steps late Monday to close loopholes in its livestock feed ban – a key protection against the spread of the brain-wasting disease in cattle – and to make sure that people don’t consume risky animal parts in processed foods and supplements.

“Firewalls have been in place for many years,” said FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan. “The steps we’re taking today are intended to provide even greater security.”

The nation’s main defense against mad cow disease is a 1997 ban on giving cattle any feed made from the protein or bone meal of sheep or certain other mammals – because that feed is thought to be the way the deadly disease originally spread in Britain and other countries.

But critics have long worried about some big loopholes: Cows were allowed to eat the blood from slaughtered cattle, usually as a milk replacement for calves. That exemption was allowed even though people thought to have been exposed to mad cow-tainted beef in other countries weren’t allowed to donate blood, for fear the disease could spread through blood.

Also, cow parts are allowed in pig and poultry feed – and until now, chicken waste could be swept up and added to cattle feed, meaning cows could indirectly be exposed.

Separately, the Agriculture Department’s chief veterinarian said Monday that he expects to wind up the search for more cases of mad cow disease in the United States soon without locating all of the herdmates of America’s first known case.

Ron DeHaven told reporters that investigators have sharply narrowed the number of cattle that years ago could have eaten the same, possibly contaminated feed as the Canadian-born Holstein found sick with the brain-wasting disease in December after being taken to slaughter from a dairy farm in Mabton, Wash.

DeHaven said some animals in the Holstein’s birth herd may never be located because of poor records and the likelihood that many have already been slaughtered. Nonetheless, American consumers should feel assured that “we have the appropriate safeguards in place to protect the public health,” DeHaven said.

The department has been searching for 80 animals that were raised in Alberta, Canada, and shipped to the United States in 2001 with the Holstein that wound up in Mabton.

DeHaven said officials now are focusing on what happened to 25 of the Canadian-born animals raised within a two-year window of the Holstein’s birth, because they would be most likely to have shared feed with it. Officials have located 14 of them, he said.

Among FDA’s actions announced Monday are new rules for cattle feed that:

-Prohibit mammalian blood and blood products from being fed to cattle.

-Ban chicken waste from livestock feed.

-Ban the use of uneaten meat and other scraps from large restaurants from being recycled into cattle feed.

-Require factories that make both livestock feed and feed for other animals using bovine ingredients to have separate production lines to guard against accidental contamination.

Associated Press writer Ira Dreyfuss contributed to this story.

AP-ES-01-26-04 1747EST

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