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Japan Suspends Beef Imports From US Plant

18 October 2007

JAPAN - Japan has suspended beef imports from a US meatpacking plant that violated a bilateral accord aimed at limiting the threat from mad cow disease, the government said Wednesday.

This 2006 file photo shows Japanese cattle dealers checking beef before an auction.

The farm ministry said part of a consignment of beef from a Cargill Inc. plant in Dodge City, Kansas, arrived at Kobe port on September 20 with blank safety certificates.

The shipment violates the accord because the products come from cattle of an unknown age.

Faced with threats of sanctions, Japan agreed last year to resume US beef imports on condition the cattle were not more than 20 months old at the time of slaughter, with brains, spinal cords and other risky parts removed.

Japan has so far rejected US calls to increase the age limit as it believes younger cattle are less likely to have accumulated infectious proteins that could cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease.

The meat delivered to Kobe did not include risky parts and was destined for elsewhere but was shipped to Japan by mistake, according to Japan Food Corp. of Tokyo, which imported it, the ministry said.

The ban will stay in place until the Tokyo government receives a "report on the result of a detailed investigation" on the matter, it added.

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Source: AFP



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