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Mad Cow Fears Trigger Asian Ban on US Beef Imports - 2003-12-24


Countries across Asia have immediately halted imports of U.S. beef after the United States said it had its first suspected case of mad cow disease.

Despite a request from the United States to allow U.S. beef imports to continue, Japan-the world's largest market for U.S. beef-temporarily banned them on Wednesday.

South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Taiwan quickly followed suit.

The moves in Asia came hours after the U.S. government said a dairy cow had the country's first suspected case of mad cow disease.

Japanese Farm Minister Yoshiyuki Kamei predicts the case, if confirmed, could affect sales worldwide.

Australia's beef industry, the world's largest, stands to benefit. Some Asian wholesalers have already said they will switch from American to Australian beef as a precaution.

Mad cow disease is also known as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy. Scientists have linked eating beef infected with BSE to a deadly human variant of the disease, which destroys brain tissue.

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