World News 08/02/2015

Ireland first EU state allowed to export bovine products to the US market

Ireland’s government announced that it will be the first EU state to export beef to the United States in more than 15 years

This follows an announcement from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) on 1 November 2013, of a final rule that updated its import regulations for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and verification of the Irish government’s capability to ensure that products meet the US criteria. This BSE regulation, which became effective 90 days after the publication of the rule, is based on international scientific literature and standards established by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). This final rule has brought US regulations into alignment with internationally recognized standards.

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy: Beef Export and Prior Ban

This announcement means that producers and traders in Ireland will be able to sell commodities that pose a negligible risk for BSE to the US. For example, boneless beef presents a negligible risk of BSE transmission and can be exported to the US. However, commodities that still present a risk of BSE are still banned from import to the USA.

Humans can contract the variant of the Creutzfedt-Jakob disease from eating meat contaminated with brain or spinal tissue from cattle infected with BSE prions. The prions that transmit BSE are not destroyed in the cooking process.

Cases of BSE and Bovine Products Import Restrictions

Since the 1980s the United Kingdom has seen more than 180,000 cases of bovine BSE. In 1989, APHIS began to restrict certain imports that could present a risk of introducing BSE to the USA. Since 1997, imports of bovine and bovine products from the European Union (EU) to the USA have been restricted.

Final approval for the import of beef products from Ireland was delayed while the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) verified that the government of Ireland has the capability and capacity to evaluate and approve individual facilities to the USDA’s FSIS criteria. This is now complete, and beef products can once again be exported from Ireland to the US.

di S. C.