USDA reported May 22 that the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) had formally classified the United States as a controlled risk country for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE — also referred to as “mad cow disease”).

“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,” said Sec. Mike Johanns.

Last October USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) submitted an application and supporting documents to OIE for review and formal classification for BSE risk. According to Johanns, the newly received controlled risk status classification “provides strong support from an internationally recognized, standard-setting body that the science-based mitigation measures in place in the United States effectively protect animal health and food safety.

“The U.S. is taking action to achieve compliance with OIE standards and we ask the same of our trading partners.”

Calling the OIE classification an “international validation,” Johanns urged U.S. trading partners “to reopen export markets to the full spectrum of U.S. cattle and beef products. 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.”