Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack made the following comments about notification received Feb. 20 from the Scientific Commission for the World Organization for Animal Health recommending that the United States' risk classification for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) be upgraded to negligible risk: "This is a significant achievement for the U.S., American beef producers and businesses, and federal and state partners who work in coordination to maintain a system of three interlocking safeguards against BSE that protect our public and animal health."Being classified as negligible risk for BSE by the OIE will also greatly support our efforts to increase exports of U.S. beef and beef products."
Last year, the U.S. submitted an application and supporting information to the OIE's Scientific Commission to upgrade the United States' risk classification from controlled to negligible.
The commission, in turn, conducted a thorough review before recommending that the risk classification for the U.S. be upgraded to negligible. Before the OIE's annual general assembly meeting in Paris, France, in May 2013, delegate countries will have the opportunity to review the commission's recommendation.
The U.S. expects that formal adoption of negligible risk status for the U.S. will occur at the general assembly meeting in May, when it is considered.
The OIE determines a country's risk status based on actions the country has taken to manage the risk of the disease. These actions include instituting a strong ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban, strictly controlling imports of animals and animal products from countries at risk for the disease, and conducting appropriate surveillance.
The OIE Code, which is based on the latest science and current knowledge concerning BSE, provides guidelines for the safe trade of animals and products based on the country's risk status and the risk presented by the specific item being traded.
Negligible risk is the lowest risk level under the OIE Code. Countries defined as negligible risk have conducted extensive surveillance and testing in domestic cattle to demonstrate a minimal risk for BSE. PD
—From USDA news release