BSE status may be negligible by 2021

OTTAWA — Canada’s request for negligible risk status for BSE has been delayed but an upgrade from controlled risk may not make much difference to some trading partners.

“To this day Canada’s representation to trading partners requesting full access is based on Canada’s controlled risk status,” said Geoff Adams of Global Affairs Canada.

“Most of Canada’s priority markets have now provided full beef access,” he said during a foreign trade meeting at the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association annual meeting in Ottawa March 10-13.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is working on its 2020 submission this July to the world animal health organization, known as OIE, and a change in status could be granted May 2021.

A country must meet specific control standards and surveillance levels and show it has not had a case of BSE in a domestic animal born more than 11 years ago. Canada’s 19th case was detected in February 2015 in a cow born March 2009.

The first case was May 20, 2003 and market access recovery has been in progress ever since.

Negligible risk status will not likely be sufficient to gain full access.

Canada and the United States have the same access for animals less than 30 months old to South Korea and Taiwan, even though the U.S. status changed in May 2013.

As of March 11, Canada has official full beef access to 55 markets including the European Union.

The top 10 export markets are the U.S., Japan, Hong Kong, Mexico, United Kingdom, Vietnam and China, South Korea, Taiwan and Saudi Arabia. The latter four granted partial access.

Even when the OIE grants a change in risk status, it is not clear sailing because some countries want to do their own risk assessment.

For example Bahamas and Indonesia are interested in expanding trade but want further inspections.

On site visits are complicated with a number of bodies involved.

It is an opportunity to see how the Canadian establishments are run and they are attempting to do their own due diligence, said Kim O’Neil, director of beef and veal at the Canadian Meat Council.

In the case of developing countries, Canada pays the expenses and most often organizations like the CCA or meat council, representing the packers foot the bill.

“Industry has to pay for this and it varies by country as to how that happens,” she said.

Canada deserves wider access, said Dennis Laycraft, executive vice-president of CCA. Since 2016, the OIE stopped publishing the number of BSE cases world-wide because it appears to have diminished.

“There is no reason any country under the OIE should impose BSE restrictions,” he said.

“They are not following international rules any longer,” he said.

There are markets that continue to refuse products like offals or meat and bone meal. Meat and bone meal sales add $16 per animal in value.

“Getting offals into China would be a big benefit,” said Laycraft.

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