Officials from Canada, Mexico and the US have agreed to a harmonized North American import standard for bovine spongiform encephalopathy, a release from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said. The agreement follows the recent meeting of officials from each country.

This standard fully reflects current guidelines and proposed amendments to the animal health code of the World Organization for Animal Health, the release said.

The harmonized North American standard is based on science and provides continued protection of human and animal health and food safety, while also establishing a framework for safe international trade opportunities for cattle and beef products from Canada, Mexico and the US, the CFIA said.

Implementation of this standard is subject to the completion of the respective regulatory processes in each of the three countries. The necessary regulatory changes in Canada will be implemented as required, according to the agency.

A news release said Mexico will immediately begin the process to amend their import permits to allow for the importation of a broader range of commodities from Canada. These measures will be consistent with those that were proposed to be implemented in the US on March 7, 2005. It is expected that Mexico will be in a position to receive this range of products in approximately three to four months. The US has agreed to consider such action as consistent with its requirements for continued access by Mexico to its market, the agency said. (Dow Jones Newswires; News Provided by COMTEX)