030746 Canada Changing Beef Slaughter System

July 19, 2003

Toronto - Canada announced it was changing its beef slaughter system in a move to encourage nations concerned about mad cow disease to resume buying Canadian beef.

The government said that the new system will include the removal of tissue that may transmit mad cow disease from carcasses. The change was called for in a report by international experts on a lone case of mad cow disease detected in Alberta on May 20.

Agriculture Minister Lyle Vanclief said the new policy makes an already safe system even safer, leaving no reason for the continued ban on Canadian cattle and beef products. The ban is costing Canada's cattle industry millions of dollars a day.

Vanclief said he told U.S. and Japanese agriculture officials in recent talks that Canada's investigation of the single cow detected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE, showed the disease posed no further risk.

In Washington, a senior U.S. Department of Agriculture official said the ban won't be lifted until U.S. officials have determined how doing so will affect trade with importers of U.S. beef, such as Japan.

Canada's new policy, which takes effect July 24, will require removal of so-called "specified risk materials" -- tissues that carry the disease -- from carcasses of animals over 30 months old. Vanclief said animals younger than 30 months don't develop the disease.

Vanclief said Canada, as a nation with a recorded case of BSE, must change its procedures to meet international requirements. The United States has yet to have a case of the illness.


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