USDA prepares to adopt international BSE standards


New regulations are on the horizon to better safeguard against the spread of this lethal disease.

National Report

-- USDA is proposing new regulations governing the importation of live cattle to better safeguard against the spread of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), a lethal veterinary disease.

The new regulations, proposed by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), are aimed at better aligning domestic policies with those used by the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) regarding bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

The proposed rule, published in the

Federal Register

under Docket No. APHIS-2008-0010, would result in the adoption of OIE's criteria to identify a country's BSE risk. Under those criteria, the United States is now a “controlled risk,” while USDA's goal is to achieve a “negligible risk.”

The hope is that the new rule will help head off future BSE infections, like cases identified in 2003, 2005 and 2006 that resulted in restrictions on U.S. beef imports by China and Japan. The beef industry estimates those BSE cases and the subsequent importation bans have cost more than $3 billion per year in lost foreign sales.

Comments may be submitted on the rule


. Comments may also be submitted by mail by sending two copies to Docket No. APHIS-2008-0010, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. Reference Docket No. APHIS-2008-0010 in any mailed comments.

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