OIE to upgrade U.S. BSE risk status

USDA announced Feb. 20 that the OIE Scientific Commission has recommended that the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) risk classification for the U.S. be upgraded to "negligible."

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Scientific Commission for the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has recommended that the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) risk classification for the U.S. be upgraded to "negligible."

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, "I am very pleased with this decision and recommendation by the OIE's Scientific Commission. 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."

Last year, the U.S. submitted an application and supporting information to the OIE's Scientific Commission to upgrade the U.S.'s risk classification from controlled to negligible. The OIE commission, in turn, conducted a thorough review before recommending that the risk classification for the U.S. be upgraded to negligible, USDA said.

"Being classified as negligible risk for BSE by OIE will also greatly support our efforts to increase exports of U.S. beef and beef products. In recommending that the U.S. 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," Vilsack said.

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 the negligible risk status will occur at the OIE General Assembly meeting in May, when it is considered.

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.

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