The U.S. Health and Human Services announced yesterday that it plans to enhance its efforts to prevent “mad cow disease,” or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), from entering the U.S.

In particular, the plan calls for the Food and Drug Administration, in conjunction with the USDA, to step inspection of both imported food and animal feed.

The plan also calls for increased funding for research into the disease. To that end, the National Institutes of Health plans to double its budget for BSE and other transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) research by the end of fiscal year 2002.

“The basic facts about BSE and other TSEs are not well understood, so it’s important for us to learn more as quickly as we can,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson. “And at the same time, we must continue to carry out effective steps to keep BSE out of the American food supply.”

Reuters, Associated Press