Thursday, January 1, 2009
The Weekly Times / Gemma Gadd
December 30, 2008
FIVE years of bad news about mad cow disease has sapped consumer confidence, according to Teys Brothers corporate affairs general manager Tom Maguire.
Mr Maguire said that while the International Veterinary Committee had all but stamped out the disease through improved biosecurity practices, mad cow disease, or BSE, was still very much on the radar for Australian beef processors and exporters.
"(Mad cow disease) is still an issue for processors in that we, and the broader industry,- must remain vigilant in our surveillance and in maintaining our programs that allow us to prove we are disease free," he said.
This is in contrast to the US industry, which is yet to regain full market access and had not established such programs, he said.
Mr Maguire said the knock-on effects of mad cow disease was still evident in beef consumption - beef sales in Korea and Japan remain below pre-BSE levels - and in processing practices.
"We can see this in terms of the controls our customers and the markets we serve insist we have in our meat plants, such as removing spinal cord and other specified risk material," Mr Maguire said.
Teys Brothers would continue to adhere to these standards to guarantee their product amid a worldwide crisis in confidence, he said.
"The disease was terrible but, in many ways, the real impact was in confidence and trust," Mr Maguire said.
"How this affected Canada and the US is an important lesson for Australia."
But Mr Maguire predicted a brighter outlook for beef.
He said some of the product sold to Japan and Korea to meet increased demand in the months and years post December 2003 had since moved back to more traditional markets.
This was partly due to a high Australian dollar.
The Weekly Times;