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ID NEWS: Tyson supports governmental steps in Canadian BSE case

Tyson Foods, Inc., Springdale, AR, has issued a statement saying that it believes Canadian officials are taking "appropriate steps" in relation to the discovery of a BSE case involving an eight-year-old cow in Alberta. The incident is believed to be an isolated one, and the slaughtered animal in question was not processed, Tyson notes.

The world's largest center-of-the-plate processor also supports USDA's temporary ban of Canadian beef imports, although restrictions enacted impact the business of a Canadian facility. "We fully understand the rationale behind the USDA decision," Tyson comments. "We are hopeful further investigation is conducted in an effective, yet timely manner, so the plant can quickly resume exports to the U.S. market."

The Lakeside Packing Plant in Brooks, Alberta, is not involved in any way in the BSE case, Tyson points out, and the temporary loss in U.S. business is not expected to have a material impact on earnings.

Separately, USDA Secretary Ann M. Veneman has issued a statement that Canada appears to be taking "all appropriate measures." Current information suggests that risk to human health and possible transmission to animals in the U.S. is low, she adds. "USDA is placing Canada under its BSE restriction guidelines and will not accept any ruminants or ruminant products from Canada pending further investigation. We are dispatching a technical tem to Canada to assist in the investigation and will provide more detailed information as it becomes available."

Veneman further notes that, in fiscal 2002, USDA tested 19,990 cattle for BSE using a targeted surveillance approach designed to test animals at highest risk.

Canada, the top foreign supplier of live cattle to the U.S., exported 1.7 million head last year, or 75% of U.S. imports, says the Associated Press.

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