Guyana bans US beef
- precaution against `mad cow' disease
January 3, 2004
Minister of Agriculture Satyadeow Sawh has announced an immediate ban on meat and meat products imported from the US.
This follows the discovery on December 24 of the United States' first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or `mad cow' disease. Many other countries have already banned US beef products and the Caricom Secretariat has written to all Caricom states with guidelines on how they can deal with the disease.
The ban includes such products as canned corned beef, raw and pickled meat and pet food, as well as poultry feed with ingredients of animal origin and beef byproducts for animal feed.
The ban on "meat" does not affect poultry imports and refers only to beef including tripe and hooves.
Managers at various Georgetown supermarkets said beef imports were minimal, except for some shipments of salted beef and cowheel. Robert Badal, CEO of Guyana Stockfeeds Ltd said that the ban would not affect his company since all its products were vegetable-based. "We import no meat and bone meal or beef extracts." He added that he exported feed to Suriname and Europe and importers there required vegetable-based feed.
At a press conference yesterday, Sawh said he had met with importers of meat and meat products and as a result of that meeting, "I would like to assure the Guyanese public that there is no reason for alarm. The measures imposed are just to make sure the population remains healthy and free from risk."
Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Kenrick Elias added that the airport authority, customs and other relevant port authorities had been informed of the ban. Travellers coming in from the US are having their luggage examined.
Bowhan Balkarran, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture said these were normal surveillance measures similar to the steps imposed to monitor and control the spread of foot and mouth disease in Guyana in 2001.
He said this "will ensure that BSE does not become a potential threat to the future exportation of local beef." Balkarran added that imports of US beef were minimal and thus presented a minor risk.
Sawh said all Food and Health agencies had been notified as a safety measure. He said the ban, which was temporary, would be lifted when clearance had been received from the US authorities. He was asked why beef was being allowed in from Canada when questions were being raised about the infected beef possibly getting into the US through that country. Sawh replied, "when we get definitive word as to Canada's involvement in the spread of the disease then we will take the appropriate actions."
Meat and meat products are imported from such states as Alabama, Florida and Texas.