Scotland could be the next EU country to gain access to the US beef market following Ireland’s lead last month.

US food inspectors are to inspect UK red meat plants within the next six months to ensure they match US requirements.

American officials imposed restrictions on red meat imports from the UK in 1989, following concerns over BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) infecting the human food chain.

In November 2013 restrictions were formally lifted on EU countries.

However, individual Member States must follow Ireland’s lead and demonstrate equivalent standards to US food safety controls before exports can recommence.

Irish beef promotion in the US to start in February

The push to promote Irish beef in the US will formally start in early February, according to Bord Bia.

“We are finalising arrangements at the present time,” a Bord Bia spokesperson said.

“Initially our aim will be to target Irish beef at high end restaurant and other elite food service outlets. Two launch events will be hosted by Bord Bia in New York and Washington.

“This will be complemented by political activity involving representatives from the Department of Agriculture in Dublin and their counterparts in the US.”

It is envisaged that the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine Simon Coveney will lead the Irish deputation to attend the US launch events. The group will include representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Bord Bia and Irish meat plants.

Beef from the EU has been banned from the US since it imposed its ban for BSE reasons over 15 years ago and this ban was only formally lifted in March 2014.