US authorities yesterday said they had found three shipments of Australian beef in South Carolina to contain the potentially fatal E Coli bacteria.
The ABC's Lateline claims to have obtained emails between senior officials in the US Agriculture Department that show, up to 13 separate Australian shipments of meat were rejected over the past year.
These included nine loads of mutton contaminated with faeces.
Further, according to safety monitors, a new inspection system introduced in Australia, last October, in a move away from government oversight to a more self-regulatory system, had opened the doors to more contaminated meat to be sent overseas.
The US, which is Australia's second-largest beef export market and largest lamb export market annually imports $1 billion worth of the Australian produce.
Concerns have been expressed in the US that the Australian meat inspection system was failing to catch the microbiological contaminants in the meat supply of exports to the US.
The contaminated meat was detected in South Carolina this week.