WINNIPEG (B)--There is nothing new in a leaked European report on the Canadian food inspection system and the EU is simply seeking a means to extend the illegal trade barrier is has had against North American beef for more than a decade, the Canadian Cattlemen's Association recently announced. The EU audit of Canada's food inspection system, which was leaked Nov. 20, recommended an immediate ban on Canadian imports of beef and pork based on claims that Canadian meat is contaminated with hormones and drugs that are unsafe to humans.

The amount of Canadian beef that would be affected by the ban is minimal, as the EU takes only about 500 tonnes annually out of about 1.2 million.

In 1989, the EU imposed a ban on North American beef produced with growth hormones. That ban was ruled illegal by the World Trade Organization.

Canadian beef has always been a safe and healthy product, the CCA said, with a record of controlling and eradicating animal disease. The organization said Canada's disease-free status is far superior to that of the EU.

The group pointed out that all products and technologies used in modern meat production must pass stringent tests for food safety, and that these products are not only used in Canada, but also in most beef-producing nations in the world. Health Canada, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the World Health Organization, as well as the World Trade Organization, have accepted the safety of the products used for raising livestock.

The association's past president, Ben Thorlakson, said Canadian beef is "far superior and far safer than European beef any day."

"Canadian cattle producers resent the EU maligning our product, when they cannot even clean up their own animal health problems," he said.

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