The Food and Drug Administration's website lists imported Canada ruminant products as as "BSE affected or at risk"; including "ruminant beef products". The FDA issued an Import Alert #17-04 dated 5/20/03 that lists Canada and appears to be an update to a previous ruling in 1998 that restricts
"the importation of ruminants, meat and meat products from ruminants, and certain ruminant products and byproducts not nly from countries and other regions in which BSE is known to exist, but also from countries and other regions which, because of import requirements less restrictive than those that would be acceptable for import into the United States and/or because of inadequate surveillance, present a significant risk"
I find it confusing that our government is considering increasing importation of products that are grown in our own back yard...let alone products that could pose a potential risk to consumers.
Scientists are experimenting with various methods of reducing the risk to consumers through various regulations, but as this Scientific American article explains, the preventative solution may reside in "cloned" beef. It remains to be seen whether U.S. consumers will accept cloned beef on a large scale, but it may prove to be a viable solution to reduce risk of BSE (Mad Cow disease) in the U.S.
In my view, another obvious safeguard for U.S. consumers is to not import beef from Canada or any other country that has demonstrated an established a pattern of BSE tainted beef during the past 10-years. At a minimum, I hope the government requires labeling of imported beef with it's country of origin at the supermarket, so consumers can make an educated decision when purchasing it.