Canadian officials have said they are confident that the US will soon start lifting its ban on imports of Canadian beef that was imposed last month after a single case of mad cow disease was detected in Alberta.

Paul Haddow, executive director of international relations at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, said Ottawa would send a letter to Washington, asking that the US accept imports of low risk meat products from cattle and other ruminants.

"With any luck at all we should start seeing certain products moving within a very short period of time," he was quoted by Reuters as saying.

"But as to when everything will be back to normal, I couldn't hazard a guess," he added.

Bans on beef exports to key markets around the world are though to be costing the Canadian industry up to C$27.5m (US$20.4m) a day.