FRESH and frozen beef from the US and Japan could appear back on Australian supermarket shelves more than 13 years after trade was suspended due to concerns over mad cow disease.
However, industry sources are reluctant to speculate on what kind of product and how much would be imported if the market was to open.
A draft report has been released by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources reviewing import requirements for fresh — chilled or frozen — beef and beef products for human consumption from the US, Japan and the Netherlands. New Zealand and Vanuatu, which already have access, were also included in the review.
Several of Australia’s trading partners have formally approached the Australian Government for market access, sparking the review.
The review identified and categorised hazards of biosecurity concern associated with the importation of fresh beef and beef products.
Covering 10 animal diseases such as anthrax and bovine brucellosis, the report found the biosecurity risk was “considered negligible”.
The BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) food safety risk was assessed by FSANZ, with all five countries listed as category one status, allowing them to export heat-treated, shelf-stable beef and beef products to Australia.
Australia has not accepted fresh meat from Japan since 2001 or the US since 2003 because of BSE outbreaks.
A Department of Agriculture spokesman said as a World Trade Organisation member, Australia has to allow trade where it was safe to do so.
A Cattle Council of Australia spokesman said it expected the Government to assess the biosecurity risk of each country wishing to import beef, using a science-based approach.
Stakeholders can comment on the review, with submissions due by February 13.