US embassy cable - 06HONGKONG1097

Hong Kong Detects Two Bone Fragments in a Box of U.S. Boneless Beef

Identifier: 06HONGKONG1097
Wikileaks: View 06HONGKONG1097 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Hong Kong
Created: 2006-03-16 07:58:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: ECON TBIO SENV EAGR HK CH
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO0479
RR RUEHCN
DE RUEHHK #1097 0750758
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 160758Z MAR 06
FM AMCONSUL HONG KONG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 5527
INFO RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 3943
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 2413
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 8285
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 2773
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR 6722
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 3712
RUESLE/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 2365
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 9583
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0754
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 3248
UNCLAS HONG KONG 001097 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EAP/CM KBENNETT 
USDA FOR DU/US --LAMBERT 
USDA ALSO FOR FAS 
 
E.O. 12958: NA 
TAGS: ECON, TBIO, SENV, EAGR, HK, CH 
SUBJECT:  Hong Kong Detects Two Bone Fragments in a Box of 
U.S. Boneless Beef 
 
 
1. (SBU) The Hong Kong Government issued a press release on 
Saturday, March 11, 2006 announcing their decision to 
suspend importation of U.S. beef from plant number 969, 
Swift Beef Company, Greeley, Colorado, following detection 
of two bone fragments, approximately 1-2 inches in length, 
in one strip loin in a carton (box) containing six strip 
loins out of a total consignment of 89 boxes totaling 4,220 
pounds.  According to the Food and Environmental Hygiene 
Department (FEHD), the two bone fragments appeared to have 
originated from the transverse processes of the lumbar 
vertebrae (which, we note, are not considered Specified Risk 
Materials (SRMs) under the Japanese agreement.)  All SRMs -- 
including tonsils and spinal cord -- had been removed during 
fabrication.  FEHD staff indicated following inspection of 
the product that they viewed this incident as a quality 
control problem. 
 
2. (SBU) At present, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and 
the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department have not 
discussed how to handle product with commercial defects such 
as bone fragments in boxes of boneless beef.  The industry 
has standards in place, but these standards were not 
explicitly referenced in Hong Kong's beef export 
verification program, which does not specifically address 
the issue of bone fragments, or set a tolerance for bone 
fragments in shipments of boneless beef.  In this case, the 
Hong Kong Government has decided to impose a zero tolerance 
for bone fragments and suspend further shipments from the 
plant until they receive a detailed investigation report and 
a statement regarding any remedial measures adopted. 
 
3.  (SBU) Hong Kong lifted its ban on U.S. beef imports on 
December 29, 2005.  The first shipments of boneless beef 
from animals under-30 months of age began arriving in Hong 
Kong in mid-January.  As of Tuesday, March 14, 2006, 
according to FEHD officials, Hong Kong had received, 
inspected, and released approximately 51 metric tons of U.S. 
boneless beef.  Almost all of the shipments received to date 
have been chilled air consignments.  The first ocean 
shipments are just now arriving in Hong Kong.  In addition 
to the air consignment of 89 boxes, FEHD also inspected a 40- 
foot container (ocean shipment) of boneless beef on 
Thursday, March 16, 2006 from the same plant, number 969, 
which arrived in Hong Kong prior to the March 11, 2006 
suspension order.  The container was fully inspected and 
released to the importer. 
 
4.  (SBU) According to the Hong Kong authorities, they 
inspect between 5-10% of each shipment arriving in Hong 
Kong.  Prior to the recent air consignment from plant 969, 
FEHD officials have found no bone fragments or product 
defects in the product shipped to Hong Kong. 
 
CUNNINGHAM 

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