Indonesia suspends some U.S. beef imports on mad cow

JAKARTA Thu Apr 26, 2012 4:36am EDT

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JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia will suspend imports of some types of U.S. beef from Thursday because of a confirmed U.S. case of mad cow disease, Vice Agriculture Minister Rusman Heriawan told Reuters.

Major buyers of U.S. beef have said they will continue with U.S. beef imports after a Californian dairy cow was found with the disease, so the partial ban from Indonesia will have little impact.

Southeast Asia's largest economy only accounted for 0.6 percent of U.S. beef exports worth about $17 million in 2011, according to U.S. government figures.

Agriculture ministry officials said boned meat, gelatin from bones and innards shipped from April 24, when the mad cow case was found in California, will be forbidden. "Pure meat" will still be allowed, Heriawan said.

The partial ban will be lifted once the U.S. provides scientific evidence to guarantee that its meat and meat products are safe for human consumption, officials said.

Major export markets for U.S. beef, from Canada to Japan, said on Wednesday they would continue to import U.S. beef, after U.S. authorities told importers there was no danger that meat from the cow would enter the food chain. Two South Korean retailers halted sales.

Heriawan said U.S. beef is mainly used by hotels and high end restaurants. Indonesia also imports beef from Australia, New Zealand and Canada, as well as live Australian cattle.

Indonesia aims to cut its cattle and beef import quota by 30 percent for this year as part of efforts to become self-sufficient by 2014. However, beef consumption is seen rising 13 percent this year.

(Reporting by Olivia Rondonuwu and Yayat Supriatna; Writing by Neil Chatterjee; Editing by Michael Urquhart)

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