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Hong Kong moves to take Canadian bone-in beef

The Hong Kong government’s Centre for Food Safety has resumed processing applications for imports of bone-in beef from Canada, effective Monday.

The centre said in a statement Monday that it will “partially” lift its suspension of Canadian bone-in beef imports, which dates back to the discovery of Canada’s first case of BSE in an Alberta cow in 2003.

The Hong Kong special administrative region resumed imports of boneless Canadian beef in late 2004.

“At the initial stage, only beef rib cuts and other bone-in products (except vertebral column cuts) from cattle less than 30 months old are allowed to be imported from Canada,” the centre said Monday.

“Each and every consignment of bone-in beef products must have the (centre’s) prior written permission and be accompanied by a health certificate.”

The centre also said it will “closely monitor the situation and review our import requirements as and when necessary.”

Quoted on the U.S. meat industry website on Wednesday, Philip Seng, president of the U.S. Meat Export Federation, said the resumption of Canadian bone-in beef exports to Hong Kong could give Canada a new edge in that market.

U.S. boneless beef until now has been gaining market share in Hong Kong while Canada’s has declined, Seng said, but the popularity of bone-in short ribs in Hong Kong, where U.S. bone-in beef remains prohibited, may alter that trend in Canada’s favour.

“While the quality of U.S. beef has made it a popular choice in this region, we certainly have some catching up to do in terms of market access,” Seng was quoted as saying.

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