USDA Allows Imports of Boneless Sheep Meat from Uruguay
The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has issued a final rule that, effective Nov. 29, will allow the importation of fresh (chilled or frozen) ovine meat from Uruguay under certain conditions designed to protect the U.S. against the introduction of foot-and-mouth disease. These conditions, which are identical to those currently required for the importation of fresh beef from Uruguay, are as follows.
- The meat is from animals that have been born, raised and slaughtered in Uruguay.
-If FMD is detected anywhere in Uruguay, the export of beef and ovine meat from all of Uruguay to the U.S. will be prohibited until FMD has not been diagnosed in Uruguay for a period of 12 months following the last case.
- The meat came from animals that originated from premises where FMD has not been present during the lifetime of any animals slaughtered for the export of meat to the U.S.
- The meat came from animals that were moved directly from the premises of origin to the slaughtering establishment without any contact with other animals.
-The meat came from animals that received ante-mortem and post-mortem veterinary inspections, paying particular attention to the head and feet, at the slaughtering establishment, with no evidence found of vesicular disease.
-The meat consists only of parts of the animal's carcass that are, by standard practice, placed in a chiller for maturation after slaughter. No part of the animal’s head, feet, hooves or internal organs may be exported (for bovines, the hump is also excluded).
-All bone and visually identifiable blood clots and lymphoid tissue have been removed
from the meat.
-The meat has not been in contact with meat from regions other than those APHIS recognizes as free of FMD.
-The meat came from carcasses that were allowed to maturate at 40 to 50 °F (4 to 10 °C) for a minimum of 36 hours after slaughter and that reached a pH of 5.8 or less in the loin muscle at the end of the maturation period. Any carcass in which the pH does not reach 5.8 or less may be allowed to maturate an additional 24 hours and be retested, and, if the carcass still has not reached a pH of 5.8 or less after 60 hours, the meat from the carcass may not be exported to the United States.
- An authorized veterinary official of the government of Uruguay certifies on the foreign meat inspection certificate that the above conditions have been met. If APHIS determines that inspection certificates are being deliberately falsified it may take measures to ensure that beef or ovine meat from Uruguay does not present a risk of introducing FMD into the U.S., including prohibiting its entry.
-The establishment in which the animals are slaughtered allows periodic on-site evaluation and subsequent inspection of its facilities, records and operations by an APHIS representative.
According to APHIS, Uruguay expects its annual lamb and mutton exports to the U.S. not to exceed 2,000 metric tons, which is less than 3% of U.S. imports and less than 2% of U.S. domestic supply of these commodities.