Johanns has his work cut out for him
January 17, 2005
John W. Munsell
President, Montana Quality Foods & Processing
Miles City, Montana 59301
New U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns seeks to convince Japan to eliminate its ban on imported USA beef.
This will be a daunting task, made even more difficult by continuing announcements that Canada has found yet more BSE-positive cows.
Japan has insisted for months that one condition of resuming imports of U.S. beef is that America can guarantee that all such imports are of American origin, excluding foreign-born beef -- including Canadian.
Once the U.S. border is open to imports of Canadian live animals, even the USDA will be hard-pressed to construct an adequate paperwork system to scientifically validate that all our own exported beef products are devoid of foreign-born animals.
I've never understood why the USDA/Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) obdurately resists tracebacks to the origin of domestic contaminated meat, as such a project appears to be scientifically impossible, and against current regulations, of course.
How in the world can the same agency give assurances to our trading partners, including Japan, that all meat we export excludes meat from foreign-born animals?
How can the agency claim to have the protocol available to enable a scientifically valid determination of "domestic traceback capabilities" -- while it simultaneously lacks capability (or interest) in determining the true ORIGIN of contamination in domestic e.coli-positive lab samples and/or outbreaks?
Mike Johanns has his work cut out for him, if he wants the agency to indeed become a bona fide "science-based" agency, one that is devoid of politics.
Additional researched, recommended information:
Export Requirements for Japan: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/ofo/export/japan.htm For additional assistance: 402-221-7400 (Omaha, Nebraska)
The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS): http://www.fsis.usda.gov/ 888-674-6854 or 202-720-3897
FSIS Backgrounder: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OA/background/usabeef.htm
The Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund, United Stockgrowers of America R-CALF USA): http://www.r-calfusa.com firstname.lastname@example.org or 406-252-2516
The South Dakota Stock Growers Association (SDSGA): http://www.southdakotastockgrowers.org email@example.com or 877-529-2333