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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 January, 2004, 01:50 GMT
US envoys bid to ease BSE fears
Non US beef on sale in South Korean McDonalds
Australian beef exporters have benefited from America's troubles
The US has launched a drive to reassure trade partners that American beef is safe after they halted imports over an outbreak of BSE, or mad cow disease.

One team of officials has gone to Mexico while another has been sent to Japan and South Korea.

They are tasked with highlighting the action taken to deal with the outbreak in Washington State.

More than 30 countries have banned American beef since the first case of BSE was diagnosed in December.

US experts have predicted that the outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) could cost the US cattle industry billions of dollars.

Rapid reaction

Japan - the largest buyer of US beef - imposed its temporary ban within hours of the US cow testing positive.

First surfaced mid-1980s
Can pass to humans through infected beef products
Human form of disease called vCJD
vCJD has killed 137 people, mainly in the UK
Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Taiwan and others took similar measures.

Australia, the world's largest beef exporter, saw meat prices rise sharply in anticipation of extra sales.

The US team sent to the Far East includes US Senator Sam Brownback - chairman of the East Asia panel of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

He is due to hold talks with senior officials in Japan, Hong Kong and Vietnam in the coming days.

The Japanese Government has warned that its ban on US beef imports could last a long time.

It also questioned whether the measures being taken in the US were as effective as those in force in Japan.

Japan has had its own BSE scare, with nine cases of the disease.


Three herds in Washington State have been quarantined since the cow was found to be infected in December.

Quarantined herd
Hundreds of cattle have been quarantined
Last week the US authorities announced a series of further measures aimed at restoring confidence - including a ban on the use of crippled cattle, called "downers", for human consumption.

On Monday US officials said they would slaughter 450 calves which could be linked to the diseased Holstein.

The calves - who are less than a month old - are currently being held on a quarantined farm in Mattawa in Washington state.

Officials say the cull was decided because they cannot determine which animal was born to the original diseased cow.

She was slaughtered on 9 December. DNA tests are being carried out to trace her herd mates.

The most likely source of infection is thought to be contaminated feed given to the animal as a calf.

Inside the United States, fast food chains have not reported a fall in demand.

US farmers count on home market
06 Jan 04  |  Americas
Mad cow fears lead to beef limits
31 Dec 03  |  Americas
US expands 'mad cow' beef recall
28 Dec 03  |  Americas
More nations ban US beef imports
26 Dec 03  |  Americas
US races to find 'mad cow' source
25 Dec 03  |  Americas
Russia suspends US beef imports
24 Dec 03  |  Europe
Asia suspends US beef imports
24 Dec 03  |  Asia-Pacific

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