Global concern over BSE is driving fastfood chains in South America to favour local beef suppliers. The pressure to use local suppliers is especially intense in the beef producing nations of the southern cone. In Chile, McDonald's and Burger Inn announced this year that they will no longer source beef from outside the county. In order to win contracts with major fastfood chains, Chile's leading beef suppliers must certify their beef is raised and processed domestically.

McDonald's, which operates 72 restaurants in Chile, has chosen a beef supplier called Procarne. McDonald's management indicated the restaurant chain has changed suppliers to ensure customers that, even though the franchise is multinational, the beef it uses is local. Burger Inn, which is operated by Retaurantes Tecnicos, uses a beef supplier called Biffe Sor.

A positive side effect of domestic sourcing of beef in South America is that it is driving suppliers to comply with international standards. It also forces them to take precautions at all levels of production in order to avoid exposure to BSE.

By Steve Lewis, correspondent