Iowa Public Television


Japan Not Ready to Ease Restrictions on U.S. Beef

posted on January 26, 2007

Japan says it is too early to enter talks with the U.S. about easing the Asian country's restriction on American beef imports.

Comments from Japan's vice minister of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry were in response to a letter from the U.S. requesting Japan raise the age restriction of beef from cattle to 30 months, in line with standards set by the World Organization for Animal Health. Japan currently allows only boneless meat from cows aged 20 months or younger due to fear of infection from mad cow disease, thought to spread with age.

Before changing its import restrictions, Japan officials say they must conduct an audit of American beef plants, study the results and make the information available to the public.

Japan, once the U.S.'s most lucrative overseas market for beef, banned U.S. beef imports for 2 1/2 years following discovery of isolated cases of mad cow in the U.S.

Tags: agriculture animals beef diseases food safety Japan livestock Mad Cow meat news trade