March 31, 2005
Final Rule for Minimal-Risk Regions Posted
March/April 2005 -- The new year started with the U.S. Department of Agriculture posting the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE); Minimal-Risk Regions and Importation of Commodities Final Rule and Notice, which took effect March 7, 2005.
The rule establishes a new category of regions that present a minimal risk of introducing BSE into the United States via live ruminants and ruminant products and by-products and adds Canada to this category.
Sheep and goats are permitted to be imported from a BSE minimal-risk region via sealed conveyance directly to slaughter or for feeding and then slaughter. They will be required to be slaughtered at less than 12 months of age. To ensure adherence of this requirement, the following regulations have been provided:
An additional case of BSE has been confirmed in Canada since the rule was published. USDA has stated that this additional case, which brings the total to three, is still within the OIE guidelines for a minimal-risk region, therefore, the case will not directly impact the implementation of the rule.
- sheep must be permanently marked as to the country of origin. Animals imported from Canada must be marked with a 'C';
- all feeder sheep must be individually identified by an eartag, which may not be removed until the animal is slaughtered;
- sheep may be moved to only one designated feedlot; and
- sheep may only be moved from the port of entry to a designated feedlot by a sealed means of conveyance. (This also applies to sheep being moved from the feedlot to a recognized slaughtering establishment.)
However, a Montana judge granted a temporary court order preventing the opening of the northern border to Canadian cattle imports on March 2. In addition, the U.S. Senate has voted to disapprove the USDA rule that would have reopened the U.S. border on March 7.
In a Federal Register published Jan 21, 2005, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced the availability of a corrected version of the environmental assessment (EA) relative to the final rule mentioned above. The rule was to amend the regulations regarding the importation of animals and animal products to recognize a category of regions that present a minimal risk of introducing bovine spongiform encephalopathy into the United States and to add Canada to this category.
Since the posting of the EA, APHIS has become aware of errors in the document. For this reason, a corrected assessment has been posted to the following address: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/lpa/issues/bse/risk_assessment/03-080-3_ea.pdf. The comment period on the EA was extended until Feb. 17, 2005.
Confirmed Case of BSE in a Goat
According to an European Union (EU) press release, a suspected case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a goat slaughtered in France in 2002 was confirmed in late January by a panel of European scientists.
The European Commission proposes to step-up testing to determine if this is an isolated incident. This is the first time that BSE has been found in a goat under natural conditions.
The Commission is proposing increased testing for BSE among goats for at least six months or 200,000 tests of healthy goats in the EU, to determine if this is an isolated incident.