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June 26, 2008
Contact: Linda Wuebben, 402-357-3778

ICON Calls for Beef Import Safety Measures and Implementation of M-COOL

A recent announcement at the end of June by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is spreading alarm once again in the U.S. Cattle Industry.

Yet another case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) has been detected in Canadian beef. This is the 14th case of BSE detected in native-born Canadian cattle. Canada imposed feed bans in l997 which prohibit the grinding and feeding of other ruminants to cattle, but over one-half of the Canadian cattle infected with BSE were born after the feed ban was put in place.

That worries the Independent Cattlemen of Nebraska (ICON), said board of director member Louis Day. ICON is also concerned with the protection of the United States cattleman, the US consumer, and residents of any foreign country purchasing beef produced in the United States.

In November, 2007, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) implemented regulations which permit the importation of live cattle from Canada if they were born after March 1, 1999. Canada’s latest BSE case was in a five-year-old Holstein cow from British Columbia, Canada born in 2003. As such, her owners could have exported her to the United States as a live animal under the OTM (Over thirty months) Rule according to a news report from R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America.

ICON is concerned with the new BSE case and questions the security of Canada’s food inspection agency. “While we sympathize with Canada’s producers, we do not want them to export their problems to the United States.” said Day. . “It is obvious that the l997 feed ban was not fully implemented until at least 2003 and that puts thousands of Canadian animals in jeopardy. For ICON, this is unacceptable,” said Day. “It not only would affect the US consumers and the exported US beef but also threatens the American beef producer.”

Day can understand the lack of confidence which other countries have in American beef when “truckload after truckload” of Canadian cattle are shipped into the United States to regional packing plants where the product is mixed in with disease-free American beef.

Day and ICON officials encourage Congress to take measures offering the American consumer protection against the introduction of BSE into the US cattle and beef market. Imported cattle from Canada need to be tested before entering the U.S. food supply – either by federal officials at entry levels on the border or by all packing companies before slaughter.

ICON also believes the quick implementation of Mandatory-Country of Origin Labeling (M-Cool) will give consumers the opportunity to make an educated choice in the marketplace. “M-Cool’s implementation will protect beef producers in the United States from contaminated blended product which is currently untraceable,” says Day.



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