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BSE Measures Law Has Bark But No Bite

16 October 2007

JAPAN - Meat from a cow temple, which is banned by law as a specified risk material, is suspected to have been taken out from a meat-processing center in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, but the violators will get off scot-free because the law does not provide for any penalty.

The case has revealed a glaring defect in the law for special measures on bovine spongiform encephalopathy, better known as mad cow disease. The law prohibits using specified risk materials that have a high risk of concentration of abnormal prions, which cause the disease, and stipulates that specified risk materials must be incinerated at processing facilities.

The case came to light in August when The Yomiuri Shimbun was told by several informed sources that a Yokkaichi municipal assembly member, who operates a yakiniku grilled beef restaurant, took cow's temple meat from the meat processing center and served it as a "rare delicacy" at his restaurant. The assemblyman denied the allegation.

The municipal government established an investigation committee that included a lawyer. The panel questioned more than 50 people, including employees of a livestock meat wholesaler in Yokkaichi that manages the meat processing center in question.

An investigation report compiled Tuesday contains testimonies from several people that claimed the assemblyman refused to follow advice to refrain from taking the meat. However, the report concluded the panel failed to ascertain that the temple meat had been taken from the plant. Until the doubts swirling around the matter are put to rest, consumer confidence in beef safety will not recover.

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Source: AssoiciatedPress


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