By Agri-Pulse staff

Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.

WASHINGTON, June 16 The nation's four major meat organizations have joined to ask USDA to move forward with a comprehensive bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) rule that would align U.S. policy with international guidelines established by the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) and establish legal authority to base decisions on whether to open the U.S. market to beef imports from other countries.

Currently, the United States applies BSE-related import restrictions to beef imports from the European Union (EU), despite the fact that most countries in the EU have been given the same BSE risk classification as the United States by the OIE.

A number of EU member states are linking their support for the approval of lactic acid as a carcass wash to the publication by USDA of its comprehensive BSE rule. Approval of lactic acid is essential to the second phase of a an agreement on beef trade between the two trading partners, which has resulted in a 150% increase in EU imports of U.S. beef since August 2009.

“We continue to face BSE-related barriers to U.S. beef exports in a number of countries around the world,” the letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack stated. “Implementation of the comprehensive rule would not only permit USDA to respond to those countries in the EU that are interested in exporting beef and veal to the United States, but in our view it should also put the U.S. government in a stronger position to press other countries to follow the OIE’s guidelines and adopt science-based BSE policies.”

To view the letter, click HERE.