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USDA urged to stop importation of Canadian animals

Monday, March 12, 2007

Consumers Union Calls on USDA to Continue
Ban on Beef from Canada; 17,000 Citizens Join In

Washington, DC— Consumers Union today submitted comments and a petition on behalf of 17,655 citizens urging the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to not allow the importation of cattle and beef from Canada until USDA tests all cows over 20 months of age. Since 2006, six Canadian cows tested positive for mad cow disease.
USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has proposed allowing the importation from Canada of live bovines born after March 1999, blood and blood products derived from bovines, and casings and parts of the small intestine derived from bovines. The US does not routinely test cows at slaughter for BSE, mad cow disease, and would be unlikely to catch any Canadian BSE cases among Canadian live cows shipped to the US.
Currently, USDA claims Canadian cows are safe if born after March, 1999, after a ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban became effective in preventing the transmission of mad cow . USDA is considering a plan to reopen the border to older cattle, cow blood, and intestines.
“We strongly disagree that Canada’s feed ban became effectively enforced in March 1999,” said Michael Hansen, Senior Scientist for Food Safety for Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports magazine. Canada discovered six cases of BSE since 2006, with four of these cases in animals born after March 1999. “We do not believe the cows found with mad cow disease are isolated cases. We are concerned about a possible health threat to US consumers,” added Hansen.
A petition submitted to USDA included signatures from over 17,000 concerned citizens. “The USDA can do much more than it currently does to minimize the threat of mad cow disease in the US food supply,” reads the petition. “The USDA should close the border to all cattle and beef from Canada until the USDA tests all cows over 20 months of age.”
Last month, Consumers Union called for the creation of a single food agency to ensure adequate, efficient, and effective oversight of our nation’s food supply. USDA’s plan to reopen the border to cows born after March 1999 is not cautious enough to safeguard consumers and the country’s livestock population.

Click here to read CU’s comments
Jennifer Fuson, 202-462-6262, fusoje@consumer.org
Michael Hansen 917-774-3801