September 10, 2003



Russia Starts Inspections to Accept Canadian Beef

Russian officials will inspect Canadian beef slaughter plants within the month, part of an effort to restart beef trade after Canada reported a case of mad cow disease, Canadian officials said on Tuesday.


The Russian Federation, one of more than 30 countries that banned Canadian beef in May after the mad cow case was reported, said it wants to import Canadian beef from plants that can prove the meat comes from animals under 30 months old, or has been tested for the disease, Canadian officials said. "Russia's decision is important and we are extremely pleased that they have recognized the safety and integrity of the Canadian inspection system," said Lyle Vanclief, Canada's agriculture minister, in a news release.

Traditionally, Russia is not a major importer of Canadian beef, buying an average of 3,170 tonnes worth C$3.2 million ($2.3 million) over the past three years, mainly liver, according to Canadian industry statistics. But because of a backlog of beef in Canada, the meat may be more price-competitive in the Russian market than usual.

Prices for cattle older than 30 months -- considered by scientists to be the only cattle old enough to incubate mad cow disease -- have collapsed since Canada's single reported case. While the United States and Mexico are starting to accept beef from young cattle, Russia is the first export market to indicate it will accept meat from older cattle.
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