Australian government assessing risk of importing beef from US, Japan and the Netherlands

Published on : December 21, 2015 Topic : Import

The Federal Government is assessing the biosecurity risk of fresh and frozen beef imports from the US, Japan and the Netherlands.

Australia has not accepted imports of beef products from those countries since 2001, when bovine spongiform encephalopathy, better known as BSE, or mad cow disease, was causing major concern across the globe.

Food Standards Australia New Zealand, recently assessed the BSE risk for the nations as very low, clearing the way for heat treated and shelf stable products to enter Australia, now the Federal Department of Agriculture is considering the biosecurity risks of uncooked meat.

Head of the department's biosecurity animal division Tim Chapman said assessment was needed to maintain good international trading relationships.

"If we don't do this there is always the risk that some of the countries which import lots of our beef will make things more difficult for us and that could have a huge impact on trade," Mr Chapman said.

"What we are looking at isn't the BSE risk, it is other risks of biosecurity concern so things that cause diseases in animals in Australia, and that is things like bovine brucellosis or bovine tuberculosis that could be carried by fresh beef."

The Department put an import risk analysis for these countries on hold five years ago while Japan dealt with an outbreak of foot and mouth disease and North American nations sourced more information.

Western Australian representative on the board of the Cattle Council of Australia, David Lovelock said beef imports needed to be handled carefully.

"The cattle council needs to rely on Government to take the right approach and work through the protocols to make sure their isn't any disease likelihood of being imported as a result of it," Mr Lovelock said.

He is not expecting large quantities of international beef to enter Australia.

"We export 75 percent of our production, so why would we been needing more beef?

"It is only ever going to be specialist cuts for specialist purposes," Mr Lovelock said.

Mr Chapman expected that no more than 100 tonne of beef would enter Australia.

"There would be minimal quantities of US beef for what they call the white linen market which is certain specialist restaurants and certain specialist cuts and very very small quantities of Wagyu beef," he said.

The assessment process is expected to take a year to complete.

Source: Rural
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