Brazil's agriculture ministry has announced a top-to-bottom "audit" of its cattle industry as the world's top beef exporter tries to stave off a growing crisis over a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

"We will review all procedures to be sure we are doing everything necessary," Celio Porto, international relations secretary for the agriculture minister, told the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper.

"It's like an audit by the ministry of agriculture on state services," Porto says, adding that it would follow guidelines set by the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health.

Japan, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan and China have suspended all beef imports from Brazil in connection with an atypical case of BSE that was confirmed last month in an animal that died in 2010 in the southern state of Parana.

Five other countries have imposed some restrictions on beef over the same case.

Brazilian officials insist the case poses no risk whatsoever to public health or to animal hygiene and have not ruled out complaining to the World Trade Organization over the restrictions.

Between January and October, Brazil, with nearly 200 million head of cattle, exported 1 million tons of beef, the agriculture ministry says. Major customers were Russia, China and Hong Kong.

To read the entire article, click here.