BSE Impact Minimal

Reaction both here at home and around the world has been much different to the 4th case of BSE in the US than it was to the first. When the disease was first  discovered in the US, it was front page news for weeks.  Tuesday’s announcement of a 4th case will have a much shorter shelf life.  While it was top news on Tuesday evening, by Wednesday interest had already begun to fade. This was due in part to the fact that there were no food safety issues involved and that the discovery showed the inspection system worked and was keeping our meat supply safe.


Even the normally skittish Asian markets were taking the news well.  Joe Schuele, with the U.S. Meat Export Federation, said that, in South Korea, there is one retailer that has suspended beef sales temporarily, but all other major retailers continue to offer U.S. products, “The South Korean government said they will enhace the inspections of US products until they have more information from APHIS about this case.” But this will only take place at the customs level and should not disrupt shipments of US beef.  Japan still has age restrictions on US beef imports based on the first BSE case all those years ago.  Schuele says Japan has taken no action to stop exports this week.


USMEF also is hopeful the case won’t negatively impact the review process that would move Japan’s BSE export requirement for beef from 20 to 30 months of age. Schuele said there is a formal review of BSE regulations currently underway in Japan, “This does not just involve the US, but Canada and Europe as well.” US officials have been pressuring Tokyo to relax import restrictions on US beef for more than a decade. “We are watching that situation very carefully, and have heard nothing that would suggest a negative reaction from Japan as far as market access is concerned,” Schuele told He says they’re not sure what impact the news will have on the ongoing negotiations to get China to accept U.S. beef. However, like Japan, the U.S. did not have a timeline for opening that market even before the BSE case occurred.


Taiwan’s Department of Health said Wednesday that it would continue to import beef from the United States, despite the new BSE discovery.Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta said, at a news conference, that the decision was based on the fact that the meat from the infected cow did not enter the food supply chain and that preliminary reports have shown the infection to be an isolated case, according to Taiwan’s Central News Agency. Taiwan has asked the United States to provide relevant epidemiology reports so that it can make a further policy evaluation.


Mexico’s agriculture ministry said it would maintain the same regimen of inspections for trade across the border and had no plans to stop beef trade with the United States after the BSE discovery. “Cases of atypical bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) occur occasionally,” Mexico’s agriculture ministry said in a statement. “These cases have appeared in different places around the world and don’t affect trade between countries.” Mexico is the largest importer of U.S. beef, importing over 250,000 metric tons of beef and variety meats in 2011 worth over $985 million.



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