The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) announced June 29 that it is amending its regulations to allow the importation of fresh (chilled or frozen) beef from two regions in South America under specific conditions that mitigate the risk of foot and mouth disease (FMD), the first step in a process for these regions to gain access to the U.S. market for beef.
The two regions are:
(1) from northern Argentina, a region located north of an area previously recognized by APHIS as free of FMD known as the Patagonia region; and
(2) from certain states in Brazil: Bahia, Distrito Federal, Espirito Santo, Goias, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Parana, Rio Grande do Sul, Rio de Janeiro, Rondonia, Sao Paulo, Sergipe and Tocantis.
APHIS said its risk assessments indicate that fresh (chilled or frozen) beef can be safely imported, provided certain conditions are met to ensure beef exported to the U.S. will not harbor the FMD virus. The assessments also concluded that Argentina and Brazil are able to comply with U.S. import certification requirements, APHIS said.
These rules take effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. The Brazil rule was first proposed Dec. 23, 2013, and the Argentina rule was originally proposed Aug. 29, 2014.
Food & Water Watch denounced the decision, saying "Brazil and Argentina have checkered food safety records, as USDA has been forced on several occasions to suspend imports of products currently eligible to come into the U.S. for various food safety violations and for failure to meet our inspection standards."