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Russia Temporarily Bans US Beef Imports - 2003-12-24

Russia has temporarily banned the imports of U.S. beef following reports of the first suspected case of mad cow disease in the United States. Several countries in Asia also halted U.S. beef imports.

Russia's Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev announced that the suspension of beef imports from the United States was temporary, but did not specify how long it would last.

He said he issued the ban after receiving official confirmation about the case of mad cow disease, also known as BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) in the U.S. western state of Washington. U.S. officials say initial tests on a diseased cow were positive, and tissue samples have been sent to a specialized laboratory in the United Kingdom to confirm them.

Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea are among other beef-importing nations that also took the measure after the U.S. announcement on Tuesday.

The Russian agriculture ministry says only four percent of Russia's beef comes from the United States. Russian import quotas allow more than 17,000 tons of U.S beef imports.