Brussels | Reuters –– The European Union is to resume exports of beef to Canada from 19 of its member countries for the first time since 1996, when they were halted in the wake of the BSE scandal.
The European Commission said Tuesday that Canada’s action was part of a growing trend to recognize the measures put in place by the EU to eradicate BSE.
EU countries cleared for imports to Canada include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the U.K.
Also listed as approved for beef exports — but not actively shipping to Canada since their meat inspection systems were approved — are Greece, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and Luxembourg, according to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
All 19 eligible countries had been approved to ship to Canada before Ottawa imposed its ban on EU beef in 1996.
EC officials said Tuesday they will work with Canadian authorities to re-establish meat trade for EU countries not yet approved. The CFIA’s list of EU countries whose meat inspection systems aren’t yet approved includes Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta.
“We call on our few remaining international trading partners who still maintain restrictive measures, to fully adopt recognized international standards,” the EC said.
The U.S. cleared Irish beef for shipment in January after the world’s biggest beef buyer banned EU imports in 1998. Ireland also secured access again to China the following month.
Saudi Arabia lifted a 15-year-old ban on French beef last week.
Bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) was first detected in Britain in the late 1980s, spreading from there to other parts of Europe. It has been linked to the brain-wasting condition variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD).
The opening up of Canada to beef is expected to provide some relief for farmers currently hit by a Russian ban on EU food imports.
— Reporting for Reuters by Philip Blenkinsop in Brussels. Includes files from AGCanada.com Network staff.