April 26, 2012 / 3:09 AM / 7 years ago

Indonesia suspends U.S. beef imports over mad cow disease

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

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

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 an infected Californian dairy cow would enter the food chain. Two South Korean retailers halted sales.

Heriawan gave no time frame for Indonesia’s stoppage of imports, saying the government would wait for further developments.

He 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. Australia suspended its live cattle exports to Indonesia last year after a video showing cows being beaten and whipped before slaughter.

After the month-long Australian ban, Indonesia said it will aim 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; Writing by Neil Chatterjee; Editing by Sugita Katyal

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