The Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has issued separate final rules that mark the first step in a process for the following regions to gain access to the U.S. market for fresh (chilled or frozen) beef: (a) a region in Argentina located north of Patagonia South and Patagonia North B, referred to as Northern Argentina (including the region sometimes referred to as Patagonia North A); and (b) a region in Brazil composed of the states of Bahia, Distrito Federal, Espírito Santo, Goiás, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, Rio de Janeiro, Rondônia, São Paulo, Sergipe and Tocantins.
The rules, which take effect Aug. 31 for Brazil and Sept. 1 for Argentina, provide that such imports will be allowed under the following conditions.
- the meat is beef from animals that have been born, raised and slaughtered in the specified regions
- foot-and-mouth disease has not been diagnosed in the exporting region within the previous 12 months
- the meat comes from bovines that originated from premises where foot-and-mouth disease has not been present during the lifetime of any bovines slaughtered for the export of beef meat to the United States
- the meat comes from bovines that were moved directly from the premises of origin to the slaughtering establishment without any contact with other animals
- the meat comes from bovines 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 bovine parts that are, by standard practice, part of the animal’s carcass that is placed in a chiller for maturation after slaughter and before removal of any bone, blood clots or lymphoid tissue (the parts that may not be imported include all parts of the head, feet, hump, hooves and internal organs)
- 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 listed in 9 CFR 94.1(a)
- the meat came from bovine carcasses that were allowed to maturate at 40 to 50 °F (4 to 10 °C) for a minimum of 24 hours after slaughter and that reached a pH below 6.0 in the loin muscle at the end of the maturation period (any carcass in which the pH does not reach less than 6.0 may be allowed to maturate an additional 24 hours and be retested; if the carcass has not reached a pH of less than 6.0 after 48 hours, the meat from the carcass may not be exported to the United States)
- an authorized veterinary official of the government of the exporting region certifies on the foreign meat inspection certificate that the above conditions have been met
- the establishment in which the bovines are slaughtered allows periodic onsite evaluation and subsequent inspection of its facilities, records and operations by an APHIS representative
The USDA adds that the affected regions will also have to meet food safety standards prior to being able to export any beef to the U.S. and that it will assess their equivalence with U.S. standards through a review of their regulatory programs as well as an in-country audit of their food safety systems.