USDA-approved changes to beef import regulations for bovine spongiform encephalopathy – also known as "mad cow disease" – are set to take effect on March 4, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service confirmed in an announcement last week.
The agency recently published the final regulations, which describe a new system for classifying regions in other countries as negligible, controlled and undetermined risk for BSE. It is the same system that is used by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
APHIS will base its import policy for a particular country on that country's risk classification as determined by OIE's risk evaluation.
The new regulations are more in line with internationally-accepted scientific literature, APHIS says. The final regulation allows for safe trade of bovines and bovine products, but does not compromise current U.S. safeguards.
In addition, the final rule also revises the conditions for the specific importation of bovine products and removes restrictions on the importation of cervids and camelids, and products derived from such animals.
When the regulation language was released in November, 2013, Dr. John Clifford, APHIS Deputy Administrator and Chief Veterinary Officer, said the changes would demonstrate to American trading partners the United States' commitment to international standards.
"We are hopeful (the new regulations) will help open new markets and remove remaining restrictions on U.S. products," Clifford said.
View the rule in its entirety on the Federal Register site: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy; Importation of Bovines and Bovine Products