Japan and the Netherlands have also been given the green light to begin shipments after the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) completed a risk assessment and review process into the safety of their meat.
The three countries will join New Zealand and Vanuatu, which had earlier been given approval to export beef to Australia, subject to compliance with specified risk management measures.
A number of checks, including an assessment of each country’s animal health systems and bilateral certification measures, must also be completed over an unspecified timeframe.
American meat was last allowed into the Australian market in 2002, before BSE detection caused its access to be withdrawn.
Japan has also previously reported cases of the disease, but since 2015 both countries have enjoyed Category One risk status, meaning they have “comprehensive and well-established controls to prevent both the introduction and amplification of the BSE agent in a country’s cattle population, and contamination of the human food supply with the BSE agent”.
“Australia accepts imports only when we are confident the risks of pests and diseases can be managed to achieve the appropriate level of protection for Australia,” DAWR said in a statement.
Though Japanese high-end beef will probably gain a sizeable market in Australia, it is unlikely that American experts will make much of a dent.
The last time they were allowed into the country, they mostly comprised unfashionable cuts that had been stockpiled in America. Unfavourable currency conditions and commodity prices then meant no more than 100 tonnes a year were exported to Australia, though cheaper US beef prices might help increase volumes this time.
Australian Meat Industry Council chief executive Patrick Hutchinson said the level of trade will depend on how advantageous exporting countries see the Australian market.
“It is one thing getting access, but obviously then having products to compete in our market is another thing,” he told Beef Central.
“What we may see is specific products coming in, it is not going to be open slather on sausages or boneless product, it might be very specific products and it has got to be advantageous for people sending it.”