PARIS – Six countries received good news this week from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) in regard to beef exports. France, Ireland, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Cyprus and the Lichtenstein received word from the OIE that the organization had lowered to the safest level their official risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), a move expected to open international market access for their beef exports.

The countries’ status on BSE was eased to “negligible risk” from “controlled risk.” A criteria to be categorized as a negligible BSE risk country is to demonstrate that the last infected native animal was born more than 11 years ago, according to OIE.

“The main advantage will be at international trade level because many countries insist on limiting trade exchange to countries that have the same risk status,” Karin Schwabenbauer, head the OIE Council and World Assembly, toldReuters.

French Agriculture Minister Stephane Le Foll said in a statement that he appealed to countries that still have an embargo on beef exports to lift it quickly. In the 1980s, a BSE epidemic spread from Britain to mainland Europe, leading to trade restrictions that have hampered French beef exports as a result.
Thirteen countries ban French beef and beef products because of BSE, including Brazil, China, Argentina, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, South Africa, Botswana, Mali, Uganda, South Korea, Iraq, Syria and Qatar.

France, Ireland, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Cyprus and the Lichtenstein join the following countries as having a negligible BSE risk: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, (Rep. of) Latvia Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, , Uruguay and the US.