The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is removing several restrictions regarding animal identification and ruminant materials processing from regions that present a minimal risk of introducing bovine spongiform encephalopathy into the United States, according to a notice in the Jan. 18 Federal Register. The final rule becomes effective Feb. 18.
Under this amended rule, APHIS is allowing:
• The unique individual identification of animals by means other than ear tags, provided the APHIS Administrator has approved the manner of identification for the type of animal intended for importation and the identification is traceable to the premises of origin of the animal;
• The importation of hide-derived--in addition to bone-derived--gelatin for any use, provided certain conditions are met; and
• Non-ruminant material that is processed in BSE minimal-risk regions to be processed in facilities that also process material derived from ruminants from the minimal-risk region.
APHIS is updating this rule to remove these restrictions because they provide no additional safeguards against the introduction of BSE into the United States. These changes update a March 7, 2005, rule that established regions with effective BSE prevention and detection measures, termed minimal-risk regions and conditions for safely importing live ruminants and ruminant products from such regions. Canada is currently the only country that USDA has concluded meets the requirements for a minimal-risk region.