Proposed USDA rule would allow Canadian animal imports

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WASHINGTON – The USDA has issued a proposed rule to amend its bovine spongiform encephalopathy regulations.

The rule establishes a new category of regions with a minimal risk of introducing BSE into the United States through importation of certain low-risk live ruminants and ruminant products.

Public approval. USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is seeking public comment on the proposal.

This proposed rule would place Canada on a list of countries considered a minimal risk for BSE, thus making Canada eligible to export certain live ruminant and ruminant products.

“The United States has a long history of having safeguards in place to prevent the introduction of BSE,” said Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman.

“The continued protection of the U.S. food supply is our top priority. This proposal reflects a thorough review of the scientific evidence, which shows the risk to public health to be extremely low.”

Specifics. The proposed minimal risk region would include areas where an animal has been diagnosed with BSE but specific preventive measures are in place to reduce the risk of BSE being introduced to the United States.

Based on a comprehensive risk analysis and review, USDA believes that the surveillance, prevention and control measures implemented by Canada are sufficient to be included in the minimal risk category.

Eligible for entry. Under this proposal, ruminant and ruminant products eligible for entry into the United States from a BSE minimal risk region would include both live animals and meat products.

The proposed rule has a 60-day comment period. Once this period closes, USDA will consider the comments as it makes any final decisions on the importation of certain live ruminants and ruminant products from Canada and other minimal risk regions for BSE.

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