USDA proposes new category for regions infected with BSE
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has proposed a new category of regions that have a minimal risk of spreading bovine spongiform encephalopathy, also known as “mad cow” disease, to U.S. herds.
“This proposal reflects a thorough review of the scientific evidence, which shows the risk to public health to be extremely low,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman in a statement Friday.
BSE, a fatal neurological disease, may be transferred to humans through consumption of infected meat.
The proposed minimal risk region list would include regions which an animal has been diagnosed with BSE but in which specific preventive measures have been in place for a period of time to reduce the risk of spreading BSE to the United States through live cattle or meat imports.
USDA said it believes that the surveillance, prevention and control measures implemented by Canada, for example, are sufficient to be included in the minimal risk category. Canada detected BSE in a cow in May.
USDA also said its proposed rule is in line with international guidelines set by the World Organization for Animal Health.
USDA also released the findings of an assessment into Canada’s BSE controls conducted by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. The study found that even if infected animals or feed material entered the United States from Canada, the risk of BSE spreading extensively within the United States was low, and with tight controls could be eliminated quickly.