"until animal health standards for animals older than 30 months are harmonized between both countries,"When do you think the US will be able to meet Canadian standards Mr Stokes?US Cattle Group Cites USDA 'Failures' In Beef Recall
KANSAS CITY (Dow Jones)--A large U.S. cattle producer organization has criticized the events leading up to a Monday recall of 1,856 pounds of bone-in beef because the animal that led to the recall came from Canada and was older than current rules allow, citing the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "failures."
R-CALF United Stockgrowers of America said in a release that it "was deeply disappointed to learn that an unauthorized Canadian cow, over 30 months of age, was imported into the U.S. and slaughtered and processed at a Wisconsin packing facility on Aug. 4.
"And although the processing facility, Green Bay Dressed Beef, voluntarily recalled the bone-in beef at issue, the recall was not initiated until Aug. 19, more than two weeks after this cow was processed," the R-CALF release said.
In the recall notice, the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service said the recalled products could contain portions of the 31-month-old cow's vertebral column, one of several body parts classified as specified risk materials and not allowed into the human food chain, as part of mitigation measures against bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad-cow disease. An audit of the cow's health certificate by Canadian officials discovered the information was not accurate, and authorities with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said they have taken action in response to the audit's findings.
"(The) USDA is trying to argue this cow was just one month over the age limit, but how many other Canadian cattle have come into the U.S. in violation of the age constraints, and how much past 30 months of age are they," asked Leo McDonnell, R-CALF USA president. "This incident shows a failure of several key BSE firewalls USDA claims exist for Canadian cattle imports.
"First, (the) USDA's requirement for determining the age of Canadian cattle has failed as cattle over 30 months of age are prohibited from entering the United States, and second, the U.S. requirement that only Canadian cattle under 30 months of age may be slaughtered in the U.S. failed because this over-30-month animal was slaughtered in a U.S. packing house," McDonnell said.
"Third, the U.S. requirements for the removal of SRMs failed in this instance, as all cattle over 30 months of age are required to have their vertebral columns removed, and fourth, USDA has failed to be transparent and reveal what happened to the remainder of this particular cow."
This animal's brain and other tissues may have been rendered and used in animal feed, but not cattle feed, the R-CALF release said.
These failures highlight the lack of justification for USDA's claim that it is acceptable to import cattle from countries where BSE is known to exist, like Canada, because of the supposedly "impenetrable barrier" of USDA regulations, R-CALF charged.
"(The) USDA convinced the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that the United States was protected from the possibility of contaminated tissue entering the U.S. food supply because the U.S. had 'created a virtually impenetrable barrier to the introduction or spread of BSE,' and obviously, USDA was wrong," McDonnell said.
Terry Stokes, CEO of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said in an e-mailed response to questions that "Cattle over 30 months of age should not be entering the United States from Canada.
"While there is no reason to think the beef from this animal is unsafe, recalling the bone-in beef was the right thing to do," Stokes said. "When violations occur, cattle producers expect the government to uphold the law. For these reasons, the recall action taken by Green Bay Dressed Beef is the right way to address the situation, and we support their action.
"NCBA supports the 30-month age limitation on both cattle and boxed-beef imports from Canada, and opposes expansion beyond this age limit until animal health standards for animals older than 30 months are harmonized between both countries," Stokes said.