March 8, 2011
On 4 March 2011, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency confirmed that a 77-month old dairy cow in Alberta, Canada, was found with a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or Mad Cow disease on 18 February 2011. The case is the 18th since Korea imposed a ban on beef imports from Canada in May 2003. Since May 2007, the Paris-based Organization for Animal Health has categorized Canada as a ‘controlled risk’ region, the second of three classifications measuring BSE risk. Canada has been very active in its efforts to resume exports, calling on the World Trade Organization (WTO) to review South Korea’s import ban in September 2009. A decision on the WTO case is expected by June 2011. The confirmation of the latest case will delay bilateral talks currently underway between Canadian and Korean authorities. Canada is seeking the complete removal of Korean import restrictions, which currently limit imports to cattle under 30 months old and excludes high-risk animal parts, such as offal and brain. Canadian exporters now face a difficult position, with Korean consumer preferences affected by both health-risk perceptions and increasingly, price pressures, as the Korea-EU and KORUS FTAs are implemented.