US lifts ban on Brazilian and Argentine beef imports

The US is to allow imports of fresh beef (chilled or frozen) from Northern Argentina and several states in Brazil, its department of agriculture has has announced.

This is the first step in a process for these countries to gain access to the US market for beef, it says.

The department is to amend its regulations to allow the imports under specific conditions that mitigate the risk of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

The region in Northern Argentina is an area previously recognised by the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) as free of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) known as the Patagonia, it says.

Some 14 states in Brazil have been approved for imports including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, it says.

According to APHIS, its risk assessments indicate that fresh (chilled or frozen) beef can be safely imported, provided certain conditions are met to ensure beef exported to the United States will not harbour the FMD virus.

The assessments also concluded that Argentina and Brazil are able to comply with US import certification requirements, it says.

APHIS says that fresh beef from both of these regions will follow the same import conditions imposed on fresh beef and ovine meat from Uruguay that the US have been safely importing for many years.

Both Brazil and Argentina will need to meet food safety standards prior to being able to export any beef to the United States, APHIS says.

These rules will come into effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, it says.