The New Rockford, ND-based North American Bison Co-op Monday recalled about 25,000 pounds of whole beef heads because the tonsils may not have been completely removed.

Tonsils are considered a specified risk material and must be removed from cattle of all ages in accordance with U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regulations.

Specified risk materials are tissues that are known to contain the infective agent in cattle infected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), as well as materials that are closely associated with these potentially infective tissues.

BSE is also known as Mad Cow Disease.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) prohibit specified risk materials from use as human food to limit potential human exposure to the BSE agent.  Removal of tonsils is required in cattle of all ages.

The product subject to the New Rockford recall is: various weight cases of “Beef Heads KEEP FROZEN.” Each case bears the establishment number “EST. 18859” inside the USDA mark of inspection and a case code number “16999.” “North Dakota Natural Beef” is printed in the bottom left-hand corner of each label.

The recalled products were produced between June 25, 2009, and February 19, 2010. These products were shipped to distribution centers in Maryland, Michigan, and Minnesota for further sale.

As a Class II recall with low health risk, FSIS will not likely be issuing a list of retailers that received the heads.

The problem was discovered during FSIS inspection activities at the establishment.

FSIS routinely conducts recall effectiveness checks to verify recalling firms notify their customers of the recall and that steps are taken to make certain that the product is no longer available to consumers.

Recalls over specified risk materials have recently become more common.  Last January, Jerry Hayes Meats Inc. recalled 490 pounds of beef carcass because the spinal columns had not been removed.  In October 2009, J.F. O’Neill Packing Company in Omaha recalled 33,000 pounds of beef tongue.