September 14, 2007
September 14, 2007 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced that it will expand the list of allowable imports from countries recognized as presenting a minimal risk of introducing bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) into the United States. Currently, Canada is the only minimal-risk country designated by the United States.
"This rule is firmly based in science and ensures that we continue to protect the United States against BSE," said Bruce Knight, under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs. "It also is consistent with our commitment to promote fair trade practices and further normalizes trade with countries that institute the appropriate safeguards to prevent the spread of BSE."
This rule makes final a proposed rule published in the Jan. 9, 2007, Federal Register.
It also builds upon and expands the rule published by APHIS in January 2005 that allowed the importation of certain live ruminants and ruminant products, including cattle under 30 months of age for slaughter from countries recognized as minimal risk. The final rule announced today allows for the importation from Canada of live cattle and other bovine (i.e., bison) for any use (including breeding) born on or after, March 1, 1999, which APHIS has determined to be the date of effective enforcement of Canada's ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban; blood and blood products derived from bovines, collected under certain conditions; and casings and part of the small intestine derived from bovines.
The January 2005 final rule, the first minimal risk rule, allowed the importation of Canadian bovine meat and meat products of any age. Subsequent to the publication of the final rule in January 2005, USDA delayed the applicability of those provisions of that final rule that dealt with meat and meat products from animals 30 months of age or older. With this final rule published today, that temporary delay in applicability is lifted and importation of these meat and meat products now can occur.
There are a series of interlocking safeguards in place to protect animal health from BSE transmission. These longstanding safeguards include the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban, import controls, aggressive disease surveillance and U.S. slaughter practices.
Moreover, human health in the United States also is protected by another system of interlocking safeguards that ensure the safety of U.S. beef. The most important of these safeguards is the ban on specified risk materials from the food supply. Canada has similar safeguards in place.
The final rule is scheduled for publication in the Sept. 18, 2007, Federal Register and becomes effective Nov. 19, 2007. Additional information is available at www.aphis.usda.gov.