Hearings Continue Into the Importation Of Beef From BSE Countries

AUSTRALIA - The Australian Beef Association (ABA) has welcomed the decision of the Senate to continue the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport (RRAT) Committee hearings into any importation of beef from Countries with recorded cases of BSE.
calendar icon 24 March 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

ABA Chairman, Brad Bellinger said that all Australians owe the Committee their gratitude, as it was this Committee that had uncovered the evidence to stop the mad decision to import from 1st March. Minister Burke’s back-flip cancelling the decision was the combined result of the Committee’s work, as well as Face book entries and many groups and individuals that organised faxes, letters and emails to the relevant Ministers. It was a huge relief that the Minister listened to so many.

Mr Bellinger said, “There is still a huge amount of work to be done on the science associated with the transfer of BSE to humans, and the trade implications etc.”

He said: “The Coalition Bill’s wording on imports, which has just passed the Senate is inoperable because they haven’t the numbers in the House of Representatives but is a great disappointment. The Bill calls for a trace back system, which is the equivalent of Australia’s to be in place in the exporting country.”

The inclusion of the trace back system is no guarantee at all, as the UK had a system with individual passports for cattle in place BEFORE the devastating BSE outbreak in the UK. Their system is far more intense than Australia’s but neither is of any use, as they both finish at the abattoir and not through to the consumer and both systems have over 20 per cent errors on their databases. It is very disappointing that the Coalition refuses to do any homework on the electronic National Livestock Identification System, (NLIS) here in Australia.”

Mr Bellinger continued: “The inclusion of Country of Origin Labelling is welcome but when the Coalition was in Government they opposed such a move for beef and did little better with any other imported food items.”

The most serious omission from the Coalition Bill was a “No beef from cattle over 20 months” clause, which Japan, South Korea and Taiwan insist on. If Australia was to accept beef from USA, or Canada without this condition Japan, South Korea and Taiwan would introduce it for Australian beef to stop any relabeling of US beef in Australia.

“This would effectively stop almost all exports of Australian Jap Ox and our manufacturing beef. Australia would be shut out of Asia. Much more work and research is required on this issue in Canberra”, Mr Bellinger stated.

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