USDA relaxes BSE regulations

USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced changes to iimport regulations on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) designed to bring the US into line with existing international standards. Existing restrictions will be lifted on countries considered to have a "negligible risk" of BSE based on World Organization for Animal Health criteria.That could reopen the US to imports from the European Union, which have been restricted since 1998.

The move has drawn some criticism from industry and consumer groups who say changing BSE regulations presents an unnecessary risk to the public. The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) supports the changes, while rancher trade group R-CALF does not.

“Making these changes will further demonstrate to our trading partners our commitment to international standards and sound science, and we are hopeful it will help open new markets and remove remaining restrictions on U.S. products," says Dr. John Clifford, APHIS deputy administrator and chief veterinary officer.