U.S.D.A. finalizes updates to B.S.E. regs

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON ― The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is amending its regulations regarding the importation of animals and animal products. A.P.H.I.S. is removing several restrictions regarding animal identification and ruminant materials processing from regions that present a minimal risk of introducing bovine spongiform encephalopathy into the United States.

This amended rule makes final several non-substantial changes from a proposed rule published in the Aug. 9, 2006, Federal Register. Under this amended rule, A.P.H.I.S. is allowing:

• The unique individual identification of animals by means other than ear tags, provided the A.P.H.I.S. administrator has approved the manner of identification for the type of animal intended for importation and the identification is traceable to the premises of origin of the animal.

• The importation of hide-derived ― in addition to bone-derived ― gelatin for any use, provided certain conditions are met.

• Non-ruminant material that is processed in B.S.E. minimal-risk regions to be processed in facilities that also process material derived from ruminants from the minimal-risk region.

A.P.H.I.S. is updating this rule to remove these restrictions because they provide no additional safeguards against the introduction of B.S.E. into the United States. These changes update a March 7, 2005, rule that established regions with effective B.S.E. prevention and detection measures, termed minimal-risk regions and conditions for safely importing live ruminants and ruminant products from such regions. Canada is currently the only country that the U.S.D.A. has concluded meets the requirements for a minimal-risk region.

On Nov. 19, 2007, A.P.H.I.S. established conditions for the importation of certain bovines and bovine commodities from B.S.E. minimal-risk regions that had not been made eligible for importation by the first rule.

Human health in the United States is protected by a system of interlocking safeguards that ensure the safety of U.S. beef. The most important of these safeguards is the ban on specified risk materials from the food supply. Canada has similar safeguards in place.

Notice of this action was published in the Jan. 18 Federal Register. The final rule becomes effective Feb. 18.

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