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USDA Official Expresses Confidence in Canadian Beef despite Sixth Mad Cow Case



John Clifford, the USDA official, said in a prepared statement reported by news agencies that the latest Canadian case of BSE isn't expected to "cause any disruption to our trade in beef or beef products from Canada."

USDA spokesman Ed Loyd was quoted as making a comparable statement last week, even before the Manitoba cow was confirmed to be infected.

"Food safety, both in the United States and Canada, is protected by an interlocking system of firewalls," Clifford said today, and he emphasized that he was confident in Canada's steps to locate diseased cattle and assure the disease doesn't threaten the country's beef production.

USDA is so certain of Canadian efforts, Clifford said, that it will not delegate agents to monitor Canada's investigation into the latest BSE discovery as it has previously.

Clifford said the latest mad cow case in Canada didn't come as a shock and neither would future cases. More BSE cases, Clifford said, "have already been factored into our current beef trading relationship with Canada."

According to experts, the USDA reaction to Canada's sixth BSE case is a sharp contrast to the first time Canada discovered the disease in a native-born cow. The USDA banned all Canadian beef and cattle in May 2003 after Canada announced its first BSE case. Shortly afterward, USDA began allowing in Canadian beef back in, but didn't ease its ban on cattle until 2005. The USDA lifted its ban on Canadian cattle under 30 months of age in July 2005, and is now working on a new federal rule that would allow older cattle into the U.S.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency reported that the country's sixth BSE case was found in a cow at least 15 years old, meaning it was born before Canada placed restrictions on cattle feed in 1997.

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