Indonesia suspends US beef imports after mad cow scare
Indonesia has suspended imports of US beef after a Californian heifer was found to be infected with a strain of ‘mad cow’ disease.
Vice Agriculture Minister Rusman Heriawan told Reuters the nation will halt purchases of US beef from Thursday for an as-yet unspecified time after a confirmed case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in California, the agency reported.
Heriawan said the import volume from the US is small, with beef mainly used by hotels and high end restaurants.
New Zealand beef exports to South Korea, Japan and Taiwan effectively doubled in the wake the first case of mad cow disease in the US in late 2003 as many countries stopped buying American beef. That saw US beef exports drop 82 per cent in the following 12 months.
The latest instance was of the rare 'atypical' BSE, according to John Clifford, chief veterinarian of the US Department of Agriculture. That strain typically isn't linked to eating infected feed, unlike in 2003.
Japan has said it won't ban US beef this time. South Korean officials say they're still evaluating the situation and no decision to ban American imports have been made.
Still, major Korea retailers Lotte Mart and Home Plus have temporarily suspended sales, the BBC reported.
Indonesia is New Zealand’s second-biggest export destination for beef. This year it slashed its beef import quota from all markets to 34,000 tonnes from 90,000 tonnes in 2011. That’s probably in breach of the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, of which Indonesia is a party.
Meat exports were worth $5.48 billion in the 12 months ended in February, second only to dairy product shipments and amount to about 11 per cent of New Zealand's total merchandise exports.
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