'US mad cows no threat to SA beef consumers'

South African beef lovers should continue enjoying the use of local beef products as the recent announcement of a single positively identified mad cow disease case in the United States should in no way concern consumers, the South African Feedlot Association said on Tuesday.

Association executive director Dave Ford said on Tuesday: "South African beef is safe and of the healthiest in the world, with more than 80 percent of all beef supplied from animals under 16 months of age."

The assurance comes after the US Agriculture Department last week announced the United States' first case of mad cow disease in a Washington state dairy cow.

Ford said consumers concerned about countries importing US beef and now banning all US beef products could rest assured that South Africa was not a beef exporting country.

Fears of sky rocketing beef prices due to an all out South African beef export drive were totally ill-founded.

"The SA beef consumer market remains the local beef industries' first responsibility, while any export venture to possible overseas niche markets will first have to adhere to mutually acceptable import protocols and stringent abattoir inspections which are currently not in place," Ford said. - Sapa

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