Russia is to allow imports of boneless Canadian beef, so long as the meat can be satisfactorily proven to be free of mad cow disease (BSE). The decision was made by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and was announced this week by the Canada Beef Export Federation.
Russia demands that meat from animals 30 months of age or less must be certified to come from animals born and raised in Canada. In addition, the meat must come from farms without a history of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE.
Animals over the age of 30 months must be tested and found free of the brain-wasting disease, and all Canadian slaughterhouses and meat-packing plants exporting to Russia must be pre-approved by the Russian veterinary authority.
Canada's meat industry hopes that the move will result in other countries lifting their ban on imports of Canadian beef.
"Russia is the first country that has clearly moved independently from the US in stating what their expectations are for animals over 30 months of age," said the export federation's president Ted Haney.
Canada`s beef industry has been in a state of turmoil since May, when a single cow in Alberta was found to be infected with BSE. Industry experts estimate that over $1 billion in exports alone has been lost in the past three months.
Over 30 countries banned Canadian beef following the discovery, and live cattle imports remain banned in all international markets.
However, the United States and Mexico have already agreed to allow the import of some boneless meat products from Canada, and the first shipments of Canadian beef are expected to arrive next week. This is vitally important for the country's meat industry, as the US is Canada`s largest beef market.