U.S. to allow truckloads of beef earlier than expected

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CALGARY, Alta. — Just 24 hours after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced it would be another week before shipments of Canadian beef are allowed to cross the border, it has pulled a 180.

Now, the department is saying it will issue permits by the end of this week in order to get trucks once again moving across the U.S. border with a limited number of Canadian beef items. Live cattle will continue to be banned for the time being.

“They will begin issuing permits for the low-risk products this week sometime,” department spokeswoman Anna Cherry told the Canadian Press from Washington. “There’s been no radical change, there’s been no new information, no drama. It’s just that the bumps got smoothed out a little bit faster in terms of setting up a process.”

Trucks will only be able to cross at certain border crossings, however, and as of yesterday it still wasn’t clear when that first truck would cross into the U.S. with boneless meat cuts.

Meanwhile, Canada has taken further steps to ensure its meat supply is, and will remain, safe. Yesterday, the Alberta government announced it would spend $15 million upgrading testing labs while building a new state-of-the-art lab for mad cow testing.

More meat inspectors and food safety experts will also be hired by the province. In addition, slaughterhouses in Alberta will have to remove high-risk parts such as the spine and brain from cattle while being processed. That’s already a requirement in federally-run slaughterhouses.

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