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From: TSS ()
Subject: Hong Kong bans beef from California Harris Ranch Beef Co. after its beef violated precautions against mad cow disease
Date: May 16, 2006 at 1:20 pm PST

Hong Kong bans beef from California meat processing plant

Posted on Tue, May. 16, 2006
Associated Press
HONG KONG - Hong Kong suspended beef imports Tuesday from a California processing plant run by Harris Ranch Beef Co. after its beef violated precautions against mad cow disease by including bone.

Hong Kong currently only allows the import of U.S. boneless beef from cattle less than 30 months old, with high-risk body parts such as the brain and spinal cord removed.

The policy replaced a two-year total ban on U.S. beef in late December.

Hong Kong has already banned beef imports from two other U.S. meat processing companies for violating the new policy.

A spokesman at Harris Ranch, based in Selma, Calif., said the bone found Monday at Hong Kong's airport was about a half-inch sliver.

"We're taking the matter seriously," said Bruce Berven, marketing vice president. "But obviously bones are part of a beef carcass. When you're processing meat, you're going to have bone."

Harris Ranch has sent about 20,000 pounds of beef to Hong Kong since it resumed exporting there in January, less than 1 percent of the company's exports.

Berven does not know when exports to Hong Kong will resume. The company is one of the leading beef exporters in California, though a midsize player in the U.S. beef industry, he said.

"One always wonders how incidents like this will affect the reopening of markets to other nations," Berven said.

Japan and South Korea, two of the largest foreign markets for American beef, have also shut their doors to the product over concerns about mad cow disease.

Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is a degenerative nerve disease in cattle. In people, eating contaminated meat products is linked to a rare but fatal disease called variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease.


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