|Food Safety and Inspection
United States Department of Agriculture
Washington, D.C. 20250-3700
This week Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman announced additional safeguards to bolster the U.S. protection systems against bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, and further protect public health.
Veneman stated that "these additional actions will further strengthen our protection systems against BSE by removing certain animals and specified risk material and tissues from the human food chain; requiring additional process controls for establishments using advanced meat recovery (AMR); holding meat from cattle that have been tested for BSE until the test has confirmed negative; and prohibiting the air-injection stunning of cattle." These issues have been in consideration since the May 2003 discovery of BSE in Canada.
The Secretary also announced that USDA will begin immediate implementation of a verifiable system of national animal identification to achieve uniformity, consistency and efficiency across this national system. "I have asked USDA’s Chief Information Officer to expedite the development of the technology architecture to implement this system," said Veneman.
On December 23, Veneman reported that a cow in Washington State had tested positive (presumptive) for BSE. Further tests at the BSE world reference laboratory in Weybridge, England confirmed USDA’s diagnosis of BSE in this cow on December 25. A swift and comprehensive investigation is ongoing to trace the animal to a herd of origin, which is believed to be located in Alberta, Canada, as well as a tracking of additional animals that have entered the United States. The United States has tested over 20,000 head of cattle for BSE in each of the past two years, 47 times the recommended international standard.
Since 1989, USDA has banned imports of live ruminants and most ruminant products from the United Kingdom and other countries having BSE.
For more information and to read the entire statement, please visit www.usda.gov.
Due to the diagnosis of BSE in a Holstein cow in the state of Washington, all beef meat products intended for export might be subject to restrictions applied by importing countries. With the exception of "replacement" or "in-lieu-of" certificates issued prior to December 24, 2003, export certificates stating that beef meat products are certified as free of BSE cannot be signed by FSIS inspectors until further notice.
As of December 30, 2003, Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, Hong Kong, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Mexico, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Zambia have notified USDA that they are suspending the importation of all U.S. beef meat products until further notice. Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, and Venezuela have extended this ban to include all ruminant products. Bahrain, Japan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, and Thailand have notified USDA that all shipments in transit will be refused entry upon arrival. Canada has implemented a number of interim restrictions on the issuance of import permits for U.S. ruminant products that are outlined in Export Notice 2003-10.
Additional announcements might be expected from importing countries regarding the eligibility of U.S. beef meat products for import as the situation continues to develop. U.S. exporters are strongly encouraged to verify with the importing country the eligibility of ruminants and ruminant products prior to shipping. For the latest updates on export requirements, go to http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OFO/export/explib.htm
Consumers with food safety questions can phone the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline. The hotline is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time), Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. More information is available at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/mph/index.htm
*This section has been added to
remind readers of information available on the
FSIS web site.
Web links will vary from week-to-week.
For Further Information Contact:
FSIS Constituent Affairs Program
Phone: (202) 720-9113
Fax: (202) 720-5704