The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is amending its regulations to allow fresh beef into the United States from Brazil and Argentina under specific conditions that mitigate risk of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), the agency said on Monday.

"This is the first step of a process for these regions to gain access to the U.S. market for beef," said APHIS.

Brazil and Argentina also need to meet food safety standards before being able to export any beef to the United States.

APHIS risk assessments indicate that fresh (chilled or frozen) beef can be safely imported, provided certain conditions are met to ensure beef exported to the United States will not harbor the FMD virus.

USDA will assess their equivalence with U.S. standards through a review of their regulatory programs as well as an in-country audit of their food safety systems. These rules take effect 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.