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Japan may scale back inspection of U.S. beef imports

15 January 2007

JAPAN - The government indicated Monday it may end the current practice of inspecting all boxes of beef imports from the United States over fears of mad-cow disease.

Based on the inspections of U.S. beef imports thus far and those of U.S. meat-processing plants, the government has found no structural or systematic problems on the part of the United States, officials from the agriculture and health ministries said at a public hearing with consumers and importers.

"We will sort out findings to decide what to do" over the practice of opening all boxes containing U.S. beef for safety checks, said Hideshi Michino, who heads the office for the safety of imported foods at the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.

Japan banned imports of U.S. beef after the first U.S. case of mad-cow disease was discovered in December 2003.

The ban was lifted in December 2005 but reinstated in January the following year after a U.S. veal shipment that arrived at Narita airport was found to contain part of a backbone, a risk material banned under a bilateral agreement on beef trade.

The ban was lifted again last July after Japanese government inspectors checked the safeguards in place at meatpacking plants certified as suppliers to Japan by the U.S. government. ADVERTISEMENT

Source : Yahoo Asia News


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