South Korea lifts BSE trade restrictions

Calgary, AB – The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA) is pleased that Canadian beef and beef products can once again flow to South Korea effective immediately, following that country’s lifting of a temporary suspension imposed in February 2015 in response to the confirmation of a case (#19) of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in Alberta.

CCA President Dave Solverson said the resumption of access to South Korea is important for Canada’s beef producers. “South Korea holds huge potential for beef and especially cuts and offals that are underutilized here at home. Korea is a market that will pay more for those select items and that helps to increase the overall value of the animal for producers,” he said.

Exports to South Korea were 1 per cent of Canadian beef exports in 2014 -- or 3,200 tonnes for $25.8 million, making it the sixth largest export destination by volume. With the implementation of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement in late 2014, the CCA believes Canadian beef exports to Korea have the potential to exceed $50 million per year.

The action by South Korea to lift the restrictions as of December 30 follows the recent release of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) final report on the investigation into BSE case #19. Per the protocol between Canada and South Korea reached in 2012, in the event of confirmed BSE cases in Canada, South Korea can temporarily suspend importation of Canadian beef, pending provision of further information on the case.

The CFIA final report on case #19 found that the most likely cause was the presence of a very small level of residual contaminated feed at the farm – a conclusion consistent with investigations conducted by other countries who have had BSE cases born after enhanced feed bans were implemented.

The conclusion of the CFIA final report enabled Korean health officials to make their determination that resumption of imports of Canadian beef poses no health risk to the Korean population. 

The CFIA investigation confirms that Canada has robust controls and surveillance programs to prevent the spread of BSE and detect the small and declining number of cases that are expected to occur from time to time. It is important to note that Canada, as a controlled risk country for BSE, is permitted to export beef from any age of animal given the established human and animal health controls it has in place. “The remaining few markets that have not resumed trade with Canada are not following these internationally recognized guidelines,” Solverson said.

The CCA will continue to work with the Government of Canada to assure international markets of the soundness of the control measures in place in Canada and to continue to encourage other countries to remove their remaining BSE restrictions.

For further information, contact:
Gina Teel
Communications Manager
Canadian Cattlemen’s Association
403-875-3616 | teelg@cattle.ca