News Update
March 14, 2006


BSE Fallout: Industry Responds

Yesterday’s announcement of a positive case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a non-ambulatory animal in Alabama has set the industry on alert.

While the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) rushed to assure trading partners of the country’s safeguards, stocks in the nation’s largest beef processor dropped by day’s end. Although experts aren’t anticipating much reaction in domestic beef demand, shares of Tyson Foods dropped 4.3% to close at $13.07, according to MarketWatch. 

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry released a statement Monday saying that the BSE finding would not affect the ongoing procedure to import U.S. beef from cattle aged less than 30 months — unless the cow being investigated is found to be born well after implementation of the U.S. feed ban prohibiting specified risk materials (SRMs) in feed. According to The Korea Times, the trade agreement established in January between U.S. and South Korea dictates that South Korea will consider banning beef imports only if the disease is found in cattle born since April 1998.

That’s unlikely, according to USDA’s report. Although investigators have yet to determine the animal’s precise age, the attending veterinarian to the positive animal has indicated that, based on dentition, it was an older animal, possibly 10 or more years old.

Japan has also given USDA some reassurance. Officials there have said the latest discovery of BSE will not affect trade plans, and Taiwan appears to be echoing that sentiment, according to Reuters.

Japanese officials are, however, asking questions about a beef shipment from a Swift & Co. plant to Hong Kong that contained bone products.

Hong Kong Ceases Shipments from U.S. Processor

Hong Kong has stopped accepting beef shipments from Swift & Co.’s Greeley, Colo., plant in response to a shipment that arrived there March 10 containing bones.

The country lifted its ban on U.S. beef products in December, agreeing to import boneless beef from cattle less than 30 months of age with no SRMs. However, the latest shipment from the processing facility has both Hong Kong — and other country’s such as Japan — asking questions.

According to Dow Jones Newswire, Swift & Co. released a statement, saying the shipment “presented a minor quality issue, which falls within acceptable tolerances under the U.S.-Hong Kong Beef Export Verification program.” Hong Kong delisted the country March 11, the article noted.

— by Crystal Albers, associate editor, Angus Productions Inc.

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