Leaders of the US Meat Export Federation believe new regulatory changes in Egypt are an important development for the US beef industry.
Egypt is the largest destination for US beef liver exports and one of the largest for other beef variety meat items. Travis Arp, USMEF senior director of export services and access, says the Egyptian National Food Safety Authority has established maximum residue limits for certain veterinary drugs.
“The issue of zero tolerance on residues of veterinary drugs like ractopamine and synthetic hormones goes all the way back to 2014-2015,” Arp said. “These were standards the Egyptian Ministry of Agriculture and Veterinary Service had on the books for a long time, but the government started enforcing those standards to a much higher degree than they previously had. We started seeing quite a few rejections of shipments of US liver. Because of that, it really interrupted the commercial business in Egypt.”
Arp says USMEF has worked collaboratively with the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) on this issue for many years, as well as with private industry and academia to address these non-science-based barriers to trade.
“One of the main concerns by the Egyptian government was that the population in Egypt consumes a much higher amount of beef liver, and even products like kidneys and hearts, than many other countries or regions in the world. So, the Egyptian government set that standard for MRLs for ractopamine on liver at 20 parts per billion (ppb), which is actually half of what the international standard is. We see that as being a much better outcome than having zero tolerance and it should be sufficient to protect the business from further rejections.”
In 2019, US liver exports to Egypt topped 57,000 metric tons and accounted for 66 percent of total US export volume. The US industry has diversified its liver export destinations in recent years, working to expand demand in markets such as South Africa, Angola, Gabon, Peru, Colombia and Mexico.