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Brussels, 20 February 2002

Hormone free beef from the USA: Additional testing requirements lifted

The imports of non-hormone treated US beef to the EU have been subject to increased testing requirements since September 99. The latest results of this testing programme carried out for hormones on US beef imports have not identified any positive findings of hormones in fresh beef or offal. In the light of these encouraging results, the Standing Veterinary committee (SVC) has given a favourable opinion to a proposal of the European Commission to repeal the requirement for 20% of consignments of meat imported from the USA to be tested for the possible presence of hormones. As soon as this decision is adopted by the European Commission and comes into force, non-hormone treated cattle products from the US will be tested for presence of any residues on a random basis like any other meat imports from third countries.

Following the discovery of traces of growth-promoting xenobiotic hormones in meat imported from the United States of America the authorities in the United States of America suspended their hormone-free cattle programme in July 1999, and re-launched it in September 1999, in an enhanced form as the non-hormone-treated cattle programme. The EU put in place additionally an enhanced system of controls on all imports of fresh bovine meat and offal, excluding bison meat and offal, which foresaw testing for the presence of hormones in all incoming consignments

In September 2000 the obligatory frequency of checks was reduced from 100% to 20%, and Member States were permitted to test and release consignments, without detaining them pending receipt of test results.

Today' s decision marks the reduction of the testing requirements to the random residue testing system which is performed on beef imports from any third country. Import and marketing of beef containing hormones remains prohibited in the EU.

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