Indonesia became the first country to suspend exports of U.S. beef after the discovery of a BSE-infected cow in California earlier this week. U.S. authorities have stated that the animal was never a threat to the U.S. food supply.

"We will lift the ban as soon as the U.S. can assure us its dairy cows are free of mad cow disease," said Indonesia's Vice Agriculture Minister Rusman Heriawan, reports the Associated Press. "It could be one month or one year. It depends on how long it takes to resolve this case."

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk reiterated that there was no evidence that tainted beef had entered the food chain.

"The U.S. absolutely respects the right of any country to protect the health of its citizens," he said. "But in the case of restrictions of food products from our market, it must be done in the context of evidence of sound sanitary standards as established by the World Health Organization.

"There is no reason for any consumer to be concerned about the consumption of U.S. beef," Kirk added. "Thus, we would expect that Indonesia would quickly reopen its market for U.S. beef products."

So far, other countries, including Mexico, Canada, Japan and South Korea, have shown no signs of halting or reducing U.S. beef exports.

Source: Associated Press