Buyers of U.S. beef keep importing after mad cow case

Thu Apr 26, 2012 4:36am EDT
 
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By Charlie Dunmore and Theopolis Waters

BRUSSELS/CHICAGO (Reuters) - Major export markets for U.S. beef from Canada to Japan stayed open after the United States reported its first case of mad cow disease in six years amid assurances that rigorous surveillance had safeguarded the food system.

U.S. live cattle futures were higher on Wednesday, but only recovered about half of what they lost on Tuesday when the market posted its biggest drop in seven months.

U.S. authorities quickly told consumers and importers around the world there was no danger that meat from the infected California dairy cow would enter the food chain. The cow tested positive for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly called mad cow disease.

Mexico, South Korea, Japan, Canada and the European Union said they would continue to import U.S. beef, although two major South Korean retailers halted sales and Indonesia, a small buyer, suspended shipments.

In 2011, Canada, Japan, Mexico and South Korea combined took 65 percent, or 1.82 billion lbs, of U.S. beef exports.

"This finding will not affect trade between the U.S. and Canada," the Canadian Food Inspection Agency said in a statement on Wednesday. "Both countries have implemented science-based measures to protect animal and human health.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said the new case of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) reported on Tuesday should have no bearing on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks.

Japan already only allows imports of U.S. and Canadian beef from cattle aged 20 months or less.   Continued...

 
Packs of ground beef are seen in a crate at the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market meat processing facility in Riverside, California, March 29, 2012. REUTERS/Alex Gallardo