The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has moved to update its regulation on beef imports and bring it in line with international standards regarding bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), known as Mad Cow Disease.

The federal agency has finalized a rule that effectively adopts the global standards presented by the World Organization for Animal Health. It takes into account the latest scientific evidence regarding the risks of spreading and contracting the disease. The new rule will make it possible for the U.S. beef industry to safely trade its production, while still ensuring that consumers are protected from the fatal disease, according to a statement by the USDA.

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The department's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) will now assess a country's BSE risk status by using the exact same criteria that the World Organization for Animal Health uses, the statement noted.

Dr. John Clifford, deputy administrator and chief veterinary officer of APHIS, explained that the finalized rule will prove that the U.S. is a reliable partner in beef trade and that it is committed to meeting international standards. APHIS hopes that the update will open new doors for American beef producers and processors and will contribute to lifting the market restrictions currently imposed on U.S. beef exports, he added.

The rule will come into effect 90 days after it has been published in the Federal Register, which is expected soon.