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Press Release

Statement by AIT Director Douglas H. Paal Regarding the Safety of U.S. Beef

I want to take this opportunity to come out and speak to the Taiwan public to assure all of you of the safety of U.S. beef imported to Taiwan.  As you probably already know, the second case of BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, or "Mad Cow Disease") that has just been announced is not a new case, or a new animal, but a re-test of an old sample taken during an extensive cattle herd surveillance program before Dec. 2004.  While we understand that the actions Taiwan authorities have to take at this point are guided by regulation, I feel it is important for the people of Taiwan to know that this test has absolutely no bearing on U.S. beef imported to Taiwan.
There is no reason to question the safety of the U.S. beef supply. This cow never entered the food supply or feed supply chain.  In fact, because this animal was older than 30 months of age when slaughtered, the stringent screening measures now in place would never allow such an animal to be utilized for food or feed.  And, it should be noted, this cow was born before the stringent measures outlawing the use of beef by-products in cattle feed were in place.  So, there is no reason to compare this long-deceased cow with cattle that are now being used for U.S. beef exports. 
The measures in place to protect consumers and contain the spread of BSE succeeded in identifying, isolating and disposing of this diseased animal. I must repeat this one more time: the recently confirmed BSE case has no public or animal health implications.  It was a test conducted as part of an effort for our authorities to learn more about BSE in our cattle herds.
Taiwan's decision to re-open its market to U.S. beef on April 16 was based on a thorough, objective, and scientific review of the safety of U.S. beef over 15 months, involving 18 outside experts. There are no factors in this re-testing that compromise the safety of U.S. beef or bring into question the integrity of the risk assessment conducted by the Risk Advisory Committee and reviewed by Taiwan's Department of Health. 
We hope Taiwan will move swiftly to re-open the beef market after AIT shares detailed information on the recent BSE detection.  I would also like to take this opportunity to guarantee to Taiwan consumers that the U.S. beef you have been eating and enjoying in great numbers has been, and continues to be safe.