USDA proposes to allow importation of ovine meat from Uruguay |

USDA proposes to allow importation of ovine meat from Uruguay

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is proposing to amend regulations to allow the importation of fresh (chilled or frozen) ovine meat from Uruguay.

Under the Animal Health Protection Act, the secretary of agriculture may prohibit the importation of any animal or article if the secretary determines that the prohibition is necessary to prevent the introduction of any pest or disease of livestock into the U.S.

Pursuant to this act, APHIS regulates the importation of animals and animal products into the U.S. to guard against the introduction of animal diseases not currently present or prevalent in this country, including rinderpest and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

In a final rule effective May 29, 2003, APHIS amended the regulations to authorize the importation of fresh beef from Uruguay, under certain conditions. Uruguay is not recognized as a country free of FMD.

The conditions require that the meat comes from bovines that have been born, raised and slaughtered in Uruguay; that the bovines have not been exposed to FMD on their premises of origin or through contact with bovines from other premises; that the bovines are subject to inspections and processing designed to detect FMD and remove potentially affected body parts; that the beef is subject to a maturation process designed to deactivate the FMD virus; that Uruguay is free of FMD for a year prior to the export of the beef; and that the beef has not come in contact with meat from FMD-affected regions.

In 2006, Uruguay’s ministry of Livestock, Agriculture and Fisheries submitted information to APHIS in support of its request that APHIS amend the regulations to allow the importation of fresh ovine meat into the U.S.

In response to this request, APHIS prepared a risk assessment and conducted a site visit. Based on the results, APHIS determined that it is not necessary to prohibit the importation of fresh ovine meat from Uruguay, provided certain requirements, similar to those in place for fresh beef, are met. Hence, like beef, APHIS is proposing to authorize the importation of ovine meat from Uruguay into the U.S.

The proposed rule is published in the Federal Register at Consideration will be given to comments received on or before April 25.

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