Jamaica takes steps to protect Island against Mad Cow Disease

Jamaica’s Minister of Agriculture, Roger Clarke has said that the Ministry was taking the necessary precautions to ensure that beef imported was free of the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease. Recently, there were two reported cases of the disease in the United States.

The Minister, in his address at the Jamaica Agricultural Society/St. Catherine Association of Branch Societies annual general meeting on June 29 at the Rose Hall 4-H Training Centre in Linstead, said that officials from the Ministry were in contact with the World Health Organization, which deals with animal health, to examine the process of beef importation.

He noted that specific parts of the cow, such as the brain and the tripe, which would likely be infected with the BSE, would not be allowed to enter the country. “We sat down and worked out the process. You must get a permit from the vet division. The plants that the beef is coming from must be certified by the inspectors over there,” the Minister said.

He noted that the Ministry had “acted responsibly,” and could not have taken a decision to ban the beef without any “scientific bases.”

“If I go without any scientific base – because we export yam to the US, export ackee to the US, export pepper to the US, export calaloo – they can do the same to us,” he argued.

Further, the Minister said that it was better to supervise the importation of beef imports than to have to deal with the illegal importation of the product.
“The next thing beef (would be) coming in here as chicken back and it reaches the consumer and we wouldn’t have any control over the quality of it,” he pointed out.

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