March 31, 2005 The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has announced that officials from the United States, Canada and Mexico have agreed upon a North American import standard to prevent the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).
According to an agency release, the standard reached during recent trade negotiations in Mexico City reflects World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) guidelines and is intended to establish a framework for safe international trade. The Canadian-based Edmonton Sun reported yesterday the standard states that as long as at-risk materials, or specified-risk materials (SRMs), are removed from imported products, and as long as animals from BSE-infected herds arent being imported, it should be safe for animals to move across borders.
While the accord has little bearing on immediate U.S. policy due to legal action surrounding the closure of the U.S.-Canada border, Canada announced it will begin expanding its import regulations to allow for further U.S. commodities beginning today. As a result, previously banned U.S. feeder cattle less than 30 months of age and bulls destined for animal semen production centers will be allowed into Canada.
Mexico has also indicated it will begin amending its import permits to allow for a broader range of Canadian commodities, the CFIA stated, estimating the country could begin receiving Canadian products in approximately three to four months.
This agreement provides a clear demonstration of the commitment in North America to evolving our regulatory approaches based on science and international established standards, the CFIA release reported. Not only does it provide concrete testimony to our belief in the safety of North American beef products, but it also reflects the leadership necessary to encourage other countries to follow similar approaches.
For more information visit www.inspection.gc.ca/english/toce.shtml.
by Crystal Albers, Angus Productions Inc. assistant editor