September 23, 2018

US Gets Nod For Mad Cow Risk Upgrade

The U.S. is set for a mad cow disease risk upgrade from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). The organization’s scientific commission notified the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) this week that the United States’ risk classification for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also called Mad Cow Disease be upgraded one risk level, from “controlled” to “negligible.”

Cows in FieldThe OIE determines BSE risk status based on the actions a 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,” according to the USDA.

The U.S. submitted an application for upgrade to the OIE’s scientific committee last year. After a review, the group in recommended the upgrade.  At the OIE’s annual General Assembly May 2013 meeting in Paris, delegate countries will have the opportunity to review the commission’s recommendation and decide whether to adopt it.

USDA secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement that the commission’s recommendation is an acknowledgement of  the U.S.’  significant work in this area and will improve export prospects. “This is a significant achievement for the United States, 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,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in a statement. “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. In recommending that the United States receive negligible risk classification, the Commission stated that the risk assessments submitted for their evaluation were robust and comprehensive, and that both our surveillance for, and safeguards against, BSE are strong.”

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