An inspection group from Taiwan was scheduled to arrive in Washington yesterday to monitor beef safety in the US after bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, more commonly known as mad cow disease), was found in a dairy cow in California last month — the fourth case in the US since 2003.
The group is scheduled to meet today with the US Department of Agriculture chief veterinarian John Clifford to be briefed on the details of the case, a Taiwanese official said.
However, the US has not agreed to let the Taiwanese officials inspect the farm where the infected cow was raised.
Taiwan has the authority to inspect beef slaughterhouses and processing plants in the US as part of an agreement that allowed the lifting of a ban on imports of US bone-in beef imposed in 2009.
A South Korean inspection group that arrived in the US for the same purpose last week was also denied entry to the farm.
The Taiwanese group is seeking to visit the National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Iowa, as well as slaughterhouses, feed processing plants and cattle farms in Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Utah, Colorado and California. It also wants to inspect 35 slaughterhouses that make major exports to Taiwan. The inspection trip is expected to last two weeks.
However, talks between the inspectors and the US Department of Agriculture have not been smooth. So far, schedules for many of the group’s planned visits have not been agreed.
According to the 2009 agreement between the two countries, Taiwan can suspend US beef imports if three to five beef processing plants in the US are found to have violated the protocol established by the agreement.
Taiwan banned beef imports from the US when the first BSE case was reported in the state of Washington in December 2003 and then re-opened its doors to imports of boneless US beef from cattle under 30 months old in April 2005. It imposed another ban in June 2005 when a second case of BSE was reported.
Imports of boneless beef from cattle less than 30 months old were resumed in 2006 and bone-in beef imports in late 2009. However, Washington has been pressing for wider regulations and, more recently, has strongly lobbied the government to lift its ban on beef containing the leanness--enhancing feed additive ractopamine.