U.S. Beef Allowed Back in Saudi Arabia Following Concern over Mad Cow

Authorities from Saudi Arabia re-opened their market to beef from the United States after a ban of four years that was placed over concerns about BSE or bovine spongiform encephalopathy known more commonly as mad cow disease.

The kingdom will allow imports of U.S. beef as well as beef products that are from cattle that are 30 months old or younger, starting immediately, said a statement released by the USTR or U.S. Trade Representative.

The statement said that Saudi Arabia would expand the access to include products from cattle that are less than 48 months after a period of phase-in is completed.

The USTR statement also said that the U.S. exported more than $31 million of beef along with beef products during 2011, prior to the Saudis placing the ban.

Tom Vilsack the Secretary of Agriculture and Michael Froman the U.S. Ambassador said they were pleased that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia has reached a new agreement that would reopen the market in Saudi Arabia to beef and beef products from the U.S. following a ban of four years following an atypical case of mad cow disease within the U.S.

The Agricultural Marketing Service of the USDA is developing a new program that certifies beef from the U.S. to the import requirements of Saudi Arabia as a way to address the specific conditions in the kingdom’s market.

It will publish the details once they are made available. The AMS Program is scheduled to be announced with the next couple of weeks.

The agreement is another example of the commitment from the Obama Administration of addressing the barriers that have blocked exports in the U.S. Reopening the market in Saudi Arabia will help to create more export opportunities for more ranchers in the U.S., said the statement.

The eligible products include de-boned and bone-in beef, ground beef, processed beef and offal.

The U.S. exported more than $31 million of is beef and beef products during 2011 to Saudi Arabia, before the kingdom placed the ban, said Froman and Vilsack in the statement.

Saudi Arabia is very strict on its imports of food products. One reason is due to the sheer number of products its imports it has to be sure that they are all at a level that is safe for consumption.

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