In a decision that could prove beneficial to U.S. exporters of beef and beef products, delegates at this year’s general session of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) recognized the United States as having a negligible risk for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or “mad cow disease”).
Several other nations were accorded the same status: Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands and Slovenia.
“This is a significant achievement that has been many years in the making for the United States, American beef producers and businesses, and federal and state partners who work together to maintain a system of interlocking safeguards against BSE that protect our public and animal health,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a written statement. “[W]e will continue to press trading partners to base their decisions on science, consistent with international standards. U.S. food and agricultural exporters and consumers worldwide benefit when countries adopt science-based international standards."
Phillip Seng, U.S. Meat Export Federation president and CEO, welcomed the announcement. “This decision by the OIE should clear away any remaining concerns that some countries have about the risk associated with importing beef and beef products from the United States,” he said. “We think the decision announced by the OIE today should provide a number of beef importing countries with a reason to reevaluate their requirements for beef imports from the United States.”
Exports of U.S.-origin beef and beef products totaled $5.5 billion in 2012, Vilsack said.