The U.S. Department of Agriculture has received notification from the Scientific Commission for the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) recommending that the United States’ risk classification for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) be upgraded to negligible risk.
“This announcement by OIE’s Scientific Commission is great news for U.S. cattle producers. The U.S. beef industry has worked with government officials and scientists to implement multiple interlocking safeguards to prevent BSE from taking hold in our country,” said Bob McCan, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President-Elect, a cattleman from Victoria, Texas. “The most important of these safeguards is the removal of specified risk materials — or the parts of an animal that could contain the BSE agent should an animal have the disease — from all animals presented for slaughter in the United States. Being classified as negligible risk for BSE by the OIE is proof that these safeguards are working and protecting the public and animal health against BSE.
“The safety of our cattle and our beef is the top priority for American beef producers. Recognition by OIE that our cattle and our beef are of the highest and safest quality is important in promoting U.S. beef in our growing export markets. We applaud USDA for working with the international scientific community and industry leaders on this issue.”
The decision follows up on the application submitted by USDA last year requesting the upgrade in status. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack was also pleased with the announcement.
“In recommending that the United States receive negligible risk classification, the Commission stated that the risk assessments submitted for their evaluation were robust and comprehensive, and that both our surveillance for, and safeguards against, BSE are strong,” Vilsack said. “U.S. beef and beef products are of the highest quality, wholesome and produced to the highest safety standards in the world. The United States continues to press for normalization of beef trade with several nations in a manner that is based on science and consistent with international standards. U.S. food and agricultural exporters and consumers worldwide benefit when countries adopt international standards.”