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Visiting pets’ food exempted from BSE rules

Some regulatory housekeeping in Canada’s BSE-related animal health regulations will exempt U.S. visitors’ pets and pet food from Canada’s enhanced feed ban.

That means U.S. residents who legally bring their pets over the border into Canada may now also import pet food, pet chews and pet treats that are meant to be fed to the pet, without fear of breaking rules that were meant to block the feeding of specified risk materials (SRMs, the tissues known to harbour the proteins that cause BSE in infected cattle) to livestock.

The federal government on Wednesday published that new rule among other changes to regulations in its Feeds Act, Fertilizers Act and Health of Animals Act in the Canada Gazette. The regulatory changes got royal assent late last month.

The amended regulations now also allow imports of cattle products and byproducts which in Canada would be considered SRMs — as long as those tissues come from countries where BSE risk is considered “negligible,” as opposed to countries such as the U.S. or Canada that are considered to be “controlled-risk” for BSE.

As well, the regulations put imports of meat and other livestock products and byproducts from the U.S. onto the same permit system used to allow or prevent imports from other countries.

The amended rules “eliminate the need for the ministerial regulation prohibiting the importation of U.S. bovine products,” the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) wrote in its impact analysis statement Wednesday.

For example, under the new regulations, permits could be granted for SRMs — a cow’s skull, brain, trigeminal ganglia, eyes, tonsils, spinal cord and dorsal root ganglia of cattle aged 30 months or older, and the distal ileum of cattle of all ages — which “are not considered to be (SRMs) if they are imported from countries that pose only a negligible risk for BSE.”

The amended permit rules also clarify that the “country of origin” for animal products — and for any byproducts other than livestock sperm, unfertilized eggs or meat — will be considered “the country in which the product or byproduct has undergone processing that would prevent the introduction of serious diseases into Canada.”

The use of import permits for animal products and byproducts from the U.S. and other countries “allows a more rapid response to changes in policy” and will allow CFIA to “respond to changing global patterns of disease and increasing requests for regionalization and compartmentalization in accordance with the World Organization of Animal Health (OIE) guidelines.”

The use of permits, CFIA wrote, also “facilitates tracking and follow-up in the event of a disease outbreak” and “brings Canada’s treatment of ruminant commodities from the U.S. into line with Canada’s requirements for other countries, by removing unique requirements and using the same system for the U.S. This will provide a greater assurance of applying Canada’s new BSE import policy for bovines and their products in a consistent manner.”

Other key trading partners such as Australia and New Zealand also require permits for such imports; the U.S., however, has confirmed that it’s “not able to move to a permitting system at this time.”

The use of permits also “enhances the Canada Border Services Agency’s awareness of the importance of an importation, since the information on the permit application will be available prior to the shipment taking place.”

Such permits won’t be needed for meat shipments, CFIA added, as all requirements can be included on the export certificate.

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