To describe the requirements to safeguard the Australian population against exposure to the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) agent via imported beef or beef products. These requirements apply to beef and beef products for human consumption and are in addition to existing sanitary measures.
The requirements in relation to BSE developed to ensure that imported beef or beef products available on the Australian domestic market are safe for human consumption have been updated in response to the changing BSE situation worldwide. Current scientific evidence indicates that the BSE epidemic in cattle peaked in 1992 and that measures to reduce the risk of human exposure to the BSE agent through the food chain have been effective.
The new requirements for consignments from other countries have been developed considering current scientific knowledge and are proportionate to the assessed BSE risk of each country. The assessment of the BSE risk of a particular country involves an analysis of information supplied to Australia on potential factors for BSE occurrence, BSE surveillance and monitoring systems and the BSE history including the implementation of control measures.
Current scientific evidence indicates that there would be a negligible risk of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in the Australian population as a result of the future consumption of beef and beef products imported from countries which have reported cases of BSE in cattle, provided they demonstrate effective implementation of, and compliance with, control measures designed to ensure beef and beef food products are free of the BSE agent.
In simple terms this means that the importation of beef and beef products from countries with reported cases of BSE will only be permitted if they meet the requirements outlined in the following section.