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Beef Ban in Australia, New Zealand

January 5, 2001

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) _ Australia and New Zealand will ban all beef imports from Europe to protect consumers from the human variant of mad cow disease, government officials said Friday.

The ban, which takes effect Monday, affects all beef goods from 30 European countries, including Belgium, Denmark, France and Germany.

``Australia and New Zealand have one of the safest food supplies in the world and the current steps are intended to keep it that way,″ said Ian Lindenmayer, managing director of the Australia-New Zealand Food Authority.

It was not immediately clear how much beef Australia and New Zealand import from Europe, but Australia has a large domestic cattle industry and imports little meat.

The food authority said it might amend its food standards code to further protect citizens against deadly Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the human form of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease. Lindenmayer said consumers should check labels on any imported foods and discard corned beef, luncheon meat, frankfurters and other products which contain beef from Europe.

Foods containing British beef have been banned from Australia since 1996, said Australia’s chief medical officer, Richard Smallwood. Agriculture and Forestry Minister Warren Truss said Australia’s locally produced beef is believed to be safe.

Mad cow disease was first identified in Britain in 1986. Dozens of people have since been diagnosed with the human variant. The two are believed to be linked.

Update hourly