October 24, 2003



Asia May Be Next To Reopen Borders to Canadian Beef


The phenomenon that Asia may be the next to open its borders to Canadian beef is a positive sign that things are returning to normal, those in the industry say.


The Canada Beef Export Federation says China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are poised to again accept beef for the first time since the mad cow crisis hit May 20.


Ted Haney, president of the Canada Beef Export Federation, says Macau could open in two weeks while the others may begin taking shipments in December.


While those countries only represent about 5% of the total market for Canadian beef, Robert McNabb of the Cattlemen's Association Says it's an indication things are returning to normal.


"I would expect the Canada Beef Export Federation certainly to use this to demonstrate to other countries that haven't begun consideration of starting to import Canadian product again, to use these Asian countries as an example of countries that recognize our system is sound," McNabb said. "I think what it does is send another signal of confidence in the Canadian beef safety system."


Thirty-four countries closed their borders to Canadian beef on May 20 when it was announced that a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) had been found in an Alberta animal. About 2,700 cattle were slaughtered and tested; no further cases were found.


In early August the U.S. and Mexico partially lifted their bans, accepting muscle cuts from animals younger than 30 months. It's accepted that BSE takes more than four years to develop in an animal, meaning younger cows are not at risk. Till now, live cattle are still not being imported.
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