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China Bans Imports of US Beef Products
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China Thursday announced an immediate ban on imports of US beef and beef-related products after the United States reported its first suspected case of bovine spongiform encephalopthy (BSE), or mad cow disease.

The provisional ban took effect Thursday, but milk, dairy products, hide and gluten used in photography are not included on the list.

The Ministry of Agriculture and the State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), which jointly issued the ban, urged all ports to stay alert for any suspected cases and strengthen quarantine work to prevent mad cow disease from entering China.

The two ministries ordered animal quarantine departments to strengthen their inspections of cows and bovine embryos imported in recent years from the United States.

Meanwhile, China announced it would start blacklisting imported goods that have been repeatedly found to cause security or health problems, according to a national conference on inspection and quarantine held Thursday in Nanning, capital of southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Li Changjiang, head of the AQSIQ, told the conference that the administration plans to launch a blacklist system some time in 2004. Such imported goods, as well as their producers, will be put on the blacklist, Li said.

The administration also plans to improve the registration system for major imported goods next year, and intensify inspection and quarantine especially for eight categories of imported goods, such as cotton, textiles and food made from animals.

US Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman on Tuesday announced the first suspected US case of the deadly mad cow disease, or BSE, found in a dairy cow in Washington State.

The single Holstein cow was tested as presumptive positive for BSE, and its brain and nervous system tissues -- considered at high risk of conveying BSE -- were said to have not entered the human food chain.

However, a Washington State official was quoted as saying earlier that other meat from the diseased cow may have already been consumed, possibly in the form of hamburgers. Soon after the case was disclosed, Japan and South Korea, the top two buyers of US beef, swiftly halted imports.

(Xinhua News Agency December 26, 2003)

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