U.S. won’t suspend Cdn. beef imports over atypical BSE

U.S. won’t suspend Cdn. beef imports over atypical BSE
Jan 18, 2022

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China, South Korea and the Philippines already have

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

Canada’s largest beef export customer won’t be adding its name to a list of countries that have suspended imports.

The United States won’t close its borders to Canadian beef despite the confirmation of an atypical case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) on an Alberta farm in December, a United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) spokesperson said.

“Atypical BSE does not pose a risk to other cattle,” Mike Stepien said, BNN Bloomberg reported. “The OIE (The World Organization for Animal Health) does not consider atypical cases of BSE to affect a country’s official BSE risk status recognition, as atypical BSE is believed to occur spontaneously in all cattle populations at a very low rate and does not pose a risk to other cattle.”

“Therefore, the United States does not restrict imports based on atypical cases of BSE.”

Of the 62 countries Canada exports beef to, the United States accounts for almost three-quarters of all exports.

About 72 per cent of Canadian beef exports go to the U.S., the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association says.

By November 2021, Canada had exported more than $3 billion of beef to the U.S. That number was up from $2.23 billion in November 2020.

Three countries have already suspended imports of Canadian beef because of the atypical BSE case.

The first to do so was South Korea.

The $90 million market for Canadian beef and seventh largest market by volume, suspended its imports in December.

In early January, China, a $200 million market and Canada’s third largest, followed South Korea’s lead. As did the Philippines.

Officials from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency provided representatives in those three countries with additional information to prove Canadian beef is safe.

“A few trading partners have asked Canada for additional information about the atypical BSE case and have either temporarily suspended imports from Canada or requested that Canada not certify exports for their market pending review of that information," Patrick Girard, a spokesperson for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, told Farms.com in an emailed statement.

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