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APHIS Finalizes Bovine Import Regulations Consistent with International Animal Health Standards

Thursday, November 7, 2013

(American Meat Institute)

The USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS or the agency) finalized a rule to modernize the agency's import regulations regarding bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The new rule uses the same criteria and categories that the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) uses to identify a country's BSE risk status. This brings APHIS's BSE import regulations in line with international standards, which call for countries to base their trade policies on the actual risk of cattle and cattle products harboring the disease. The rule also allows APHIS to conduct its own assessment when deemed necessary, such as when a country is not yet classified by the OIE for BSE risk and requests that APHIS conduct a risk evaluation using criteria equivalent to that used by OIE. 

In a statement, AMI President and CEO J. Patrick Boyle welcomed the rule, saying, "The rule is a significant step forward to make U.S. beef import regulations more consistent with international animal health standards.  We have long said that having such a rule in place will show leadership on the global scale and believe it will enhance U.S. trade and give USTR and USDA a stronger position to press other nations to follow the OIE's guidelines and adopt science-based BSE policies. Using internationally recognized science-based standards as the basis for trade facilitates exports and imports of meat and poultry products -- for the benefit of consumers and producers."

The rule, which will be published in the Federal Register soon and will also include an updated country risk status list based on the most recent OIE designations. It becomes effective 90 days after publication.

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