DENVER – Approximately one week after the US Department of Agriculture’s announcement that a new bovine spongiform encephalopathy case in California was discovered – the fourth since 2003 – a partial import ban by Indonesia remains the only official change in market access for US beef, according to the US Meat Export Federation.

The Indonesian market remains open to imports of US boneless beef cuts, but has closed to beef variety meat, bone-in muscle cuts and other beef products.

But on the afternoon of May 1, USMEF said Thailand does not plan to close to US beef. However, market access in Thailand is limited to boneless beef cuts from animals less than 30 months of age; USMEF now expects no change in this status.

Although Indonesia’s decision is disappointing, Philip Seng, USMEF president and CEO, said it was mainly due to Indonesia’s desire to bolster its own domestic beef production rather than actual concerns about BSE. Most US trading partners have followed sound science and handled news of the BSE case responsibly, he added.

Maintaining market access is only part of the battle, Seng cautioned. USMEF staff members have been actively engaged with industry partners, media contacts and other influential sources in key market to help maintain consumer confidence and dispel possible misinformation about US beef safety and quality. These activities are critical to maintaining consumer demand and protecting US market share.