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Statement of the American Meat Institute on Third Case of BSE in Canada

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

With the announcement of the third case of BSE in Canada today, it is important that we try to fully understand the significance of the announcement and demand that our public officials make policy decisions based on sound scientific principles.

First, the meat from this animal never entered the food or feed chain. However, even if the meat had been sold for human consumption, the meat was perfectly safe because the Specified Risk Materials – tissues such as brain and spinal cord where the BSE agent is found – are required to be removed. Those are the only tissues where BSE has ever been found.

Second, there are multiple firewalls in place to detect BSE if it exists in North America and prevent the contamination of the food supply. This animal was identified because it had been detected under the Canadian surveillance system.

Third, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency is going to conduct a full internal audit of their feed rule to determine that it is operating as planned.

This animal was born on March 21, 1998, just a few months after the enactment of new feed ban regulations in both Canada and the U.S. However, at the time of enactment, it was anticipated that feed already produced and in the pipeline would remain in inventory and likely be used. For that reason, the precise beginning date of the actual feed rule is much less significant.

The U.S. should move forward with its decision to import live Canadian cattle and meat products because the firewalls to ensure BSE prevention and food safety are intact. BSE infected cattle have been detected in Canada, and might be detected in the U.S., because our BSE prevention programs work.

How we handle the Canadian announcement is being watched by our trading partners on the global stage. Any decision by USDA regarding a change in Canada's status as a minimal-risk country should be based on the sound scientific principles.”

For more information contact:
David Ray
Vice President, Public Affairs
Janet Riley
Sr. VP, Public Affairs

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