The U.S. government should establish an age-verification Quality System Assessment (QSA) Program for Taiwan to ensure an orderly expansion to a full market opening to U.S. beef products, according to a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that was signed by AMI, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) and the National Meat Association (NMA).

The three groups sent the letter following Taiwan’s October 22 announcement that it will expand access to its market to permit imports of U.S. beef and beef products consistent with the guidelines of the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

“While U.S. exporters are confident that all beef and beef products produced in the United States are safe regardless of age, the U.S. beef exporting industry is prepared to temporarily limit beef exports to Taiwan to products from cattle less than thirty months of age under a program verified by USDA as a transitional measure to ensure an orderly expansion to a full market opening,” said AMI President J. Patrick Boyle, USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng and NMA CEO and Executive Director Barry Carpenter.

They asked that as soon as the “Protocol of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE)-Related Measures for the Importation of Beef and Beef Products for Human Consumption from the Territory of the Authorities Represented by the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT),” which allows for expansion of market access for U.S. beef, becomes effective, the age verification program be developed and put in place. The letter noted that USDA’s Agriculture Marketing Service has confirmed that it is taking the steps necessary to establish the QSA program.