U.S. Upbeat About Beef Sales in Asia Despite Import Restrictions

U.S. officials are upbeat about selling more beef in Asia despite import restrictions related to mad cow disease.

As reported by Libby Quaid, AP Food and Farm Writer

 

The Agriculture Department announced Thursday that Singapore had officially ended a ban on American beef, following Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea, all of which reopened their markets in the past six weeks.

"This decision adds momentum to our goal of resuming normal beef trade throughout the world," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said.

U.S. officials will continue to push trading partners to lift restrictions and allow the full range of beef considered safe under international guidelines, Johanns said.

Singapore is allowing only boneless beef shipments and still will prohibit ribs and other bone-in products. Likewise, South Korea and Hong Kong are accepting only boneless cuts of beef from animals 30 months and younger.

The restrictions remain because officials fear that marrow and other bone tissues might be dangerous, although international guidelines say those tissues can be traded safely.

Japan is not allowing beef from cattle older than 21 months, a restriction more stringent than the international 30-month guidelines.

Singapore was worth nearly $5.9 million to American producers in 2003, the year before the ban. It represents a smaller market than Japan, worth $1.4 billion in 2003.

 

The U.S. sold beef to 95 other countries before the first U.S. case of mad cow disease in December 2003; today, 70 countries are now open to U.S. beef. A second U.S. case was confirmed in June 2005.

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