Japan stalls beef imports from US citing safety concerns

Japan stalls beef imports from US citing safety concerns

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Japanese health and farm ministries said that the country stopped importing beef from a plant in US on November 29, 2012. The import was stopped after the American authorities failed to confirm whether beef from that plant met Japan’s safety requirements on the US origin. According to reports the meat was arriving without proper documents.

On November 22, 2012, cargo from a plant in Cargill Inc. in Schuyler, Nebraska arrived in Tokyo. It included a package without the required quarantine documents and the health and farm ministries asked the US authorities to confirm the age of the cattle concerned. The import was halted after the authorities from US said that they could not confirm if the beef met Japan’s requirements of cattle age. Imported meat can only come into Japan from cattle that are 20 months or younger.

At present, Japan is looking forward to relaxing the age regulations to 30 months or younger. The food safety authorities said in October, 2012, that by taking the step the risk would be negligible to human health.

Strict rules were imposed in Japan in the year 2005, after the outbreak of mad cow disease. The rules have caused US imports to go down and the Australian beef market has gained a favorable market share in Japan’s imported beef industry. The Japanese and US governments are in talks regarding the relaxation of the age for US beef imports, but when this will occur is not known.