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NOUMÉA, New Caledonia (February 27, 2001 - Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat)---Concerns about mad cow disease in Europe have forced New Caledonia to consider only importing beef from New Zealand and Australia.

A majority of beef products imported into New Caledonia comes from France and other European countries.

French territory officials say the government will increase screening meat products from countries that are not able to produce evidence that they are exempt from mad cow disease.

The ban on all meats from Europe would still permit importation of Australian and New Zealand products.

Sally Mansfield, Australia’s Counsel General in New Caledonia, says the French territory began looking closely at the issue late last year.

She says shoppers at supermarkets will certainly feel the affects of such a ban.

"A great percentage of beef food products that come into New Caledonia come from Europe," she says.

Mansfield says New Caledonia’s local beef industry will probably benefit from the ban. But it won’t be enough to totally fill the gap left from the European beef ban.

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat. 

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