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From: TSS ()
Subject: OIG (BSE) Semiannual Report to Congress FY-2005 - First Half (PDF)
Date: December 17, 2005 at 7:52 pm PST

Office of Inspector General OIG

Semiannual Report to Congress FY - 2005 - First Half


Stopping BSE at the Border—USDA Needs To

Strengthen Controls Over Canadian Beef Imports

Following the detection of a Canadian cow with bovine

spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or “mad cow disease”)

in May 2003, we examined the Animal and Plant Health

Inspection Service’s (APHIS) oversight of the importation

of beef products from Canada. Following requests from

four U.S. Senators, we began several reviews in June

2004 to explore whether USDA did not follow appropriate

safety measures, beginning sometime in the fall of 2003,

in allowing expanded Canadian beef imports into the

United States.

After the initial halt of imports, in August 2003 the

Secretary announced a list of low-risk products that would

be allowed from Canada. APHIS also allowed an

expansion in the type of Canadian facilities that could

produce items for export to the United States. The

gradual expansion occurred because agency employees

included products similar to those on the published lowrisk

list, but APHIS did not communicate this broadly.

As a result, from August 2003 to April 2004, APHIS issued

permits for products with questionable eligibility. Contrary

to publicly stated policy, the agency allowed the import of

products from Canadian facilities that produced both

eligible and ineligible products, increasing the possibility

that higher-risk product could be inadvertently imported.

APHIS also issued permits to allow the import of more

than 63,000 pounds of beef cheek meat with questionable

eligibility because the agency did not establish a clear

definition for “boneless beef.” Further, we found that

FSIS did not always communicate effectively about the

eligibility status of beef cheek meat, specifically to import

inspectors. In addition, APHIS issued 1,155 permits for

the importation of ruminant (e.g., cow, goat) products

from Canada without ensuring that the agency had an

appropriate system of internal controls to manage the

process for a suddenly overwhelming volume of requests.

From May through September 2004, we identified more

than 42,000 pounds of product with questionable


APHIS generally agreed to institute procedures for

communicating changes in policy and monitoring the

consistency between agency practice and publicly stated

policy, as well as to strengthen controls and finalize

procedures to issue and monitor permits. FSIS generally

agreed to implement controls to communicate the specific

eligibility of product when its eligibility status changes and

to implement an edit check in its import information

system to identify ineligible product. (Audit Report No.

33601-1-Hy, APHIS Oversight of the Importation of Beef

Products from Canada)


Restaurant Owner Sentenced for Smuggling Beef

from Japan, Importation of Which Is Prohibited Due

to Disease Concerns

In January 2005, a Los Angeles restaurant owner was

placed on probation for 60 months, to include 800 hours

of community service, after he pled guilty to smuggling

beef from Japan. Under 9 Code of Federal Regulations

(C.F.R.) § 94, beef from Japan is a prohibited product

for United States importation due to disease. On two

occasions in 2001 and 2002, inspectors in Anchorage,

Alaska, intercepted shipments sent from Japan that

were manifested as “book,” but upon inspection by

USDA and the United States Customs Service, were

found to contain approximately 25 kilograms of beef

inside a Styrofoam ice chest. Both shipments were

addressed to the restaurant owner. Shipping records

showed that the restaurant owner had received 13

shipments manifested as “book” from the same sender

in Japan in 2001 and 2002. All but one of the shipments

were in the same weight range as the two intercepted

shipments. The shipper and the restaurant owner were

subsequently indicted for various charges including

conspiracy and smuggling. An arrest warrant was

issued for the shipper, who is still in Japan.


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