The Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health, or OIE, has formally upgraded the U.S. classification, making it a controlled risk country for bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
"This classification confirms what we have always contended-that U.S. regulatory controls are effective and that U.S fresh beef and beef products from cattle of all ages can be safely traded due to our interlocking safeguards," says USDA Secretary Mike Johanns.
The new classification may help U.S. beef crack some foreign markets, such as South Korea and Japan, that have been reluctant to lift BSE-related restrictions on it.
"We will use this international validation to urge our trading partners to reopen export markets to the full spectrum of U.S. cattle and beef products," Johanns says. "We are notifying our trading partners of our expectation that they commit to a timeframe to amend import requirements and expand access to their markets to reflect this controlled risk determination. We will use every means available to us to ensure that countries rapidly take steps to align their requirements with international standards.