The United States may once again be able to have a provisionally free risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The World Organization of Animal Health, known under its French initials OIE, may change its standard concerning risk profiles of countries that have experienced BSE in their national herds.
The U.S. government supports an OIE proposal to approve worldwide trade in almost all boneless muscle cuts of beef, even if a case of BSE has been found in the country. The proposal will be discussed at a meeting of the world organization at its Paris headquarters next week.
Speaking earlier in May, U.S. Meat Export Federation President and CEO Phil Seng expects the OIE decision to come May 22. The OIE change in rules should take out the sensationalism about boneless beef products and focus on optimization of specified risk material removal as the real pillar of protection against spread of the disease to humans and other bovine.
OIE guidelines are recommendations to countries, not international law. However, if the change in policy were put in place, it would be more difficult for countries to ban some of the most expensive cuts of beef that are currently banned.
The standard would also simplify the categories into which countries are separated by their risk profiles, and would require a standardized program of surveillance and testing worldwide. This would help in situations similar to Japan's earlier requirement of mandatory testing before trade is resumed.