Federal rules on beef imported into the U.S. will change beginning March 4, when importers begin operating under new, more open rules regarding bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), the fatal disease in cattle more commonly known as “Mad Cow Disease.” The new rules aim to bring the U.S. guidelines for imports in regard to BSE more in line with international standards, which base trade conditions on the inherent risk of BSE in a specific country’s beef commodities. That risk is monitored by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), which sets various international standards for animal health. In an alert sent out recently, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said that, starting in about three weeks, certain beef imports will be allowed into the U.S. from countries recognized as negligible, controlled or undetermined risk. Those imports include general meat cuts, as well as more specific items such as skeletal meat and offal when accompanied by a permit. With the new rules, USDA will also be removing the BSE-related import restrictions on meat from deer, elk, llamas and other cervid and camelid species. “We are making these amendments after conducting a thorough review of relevant scientific literature and a comprehensive evaluation of the issues and concluding that the changes to the regulations will continue to guard against the introduction of BSE into the United States,” USDA wrote, “while allowing the importation of additional animals and animal products into this country.” To learn more about the new BSE import rules, read Food Safety News coverage here: USDA Eases Regulations on Beef Imports in Regard to ‘Mad Cow Disease’ USDA’s Federal Register notice on the rules is here: Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy; Importation of Bovines and Bovine Products