The health ministry on Dec. 15 released a draft to ease restrictions on beef imports from a number of countries that started years ago over fears of mad cow disease.
The measure will allow imports into Japan of beef from cattle up to 30 months old in the United States and Canada. Currently, Japan only allows beef imports from those two countries from cattle up to 20 months old.
In addition, the government will lift the ban on beef imports from France and the Netherlands, allowing in meat from cattle up to 30 months old from those countries.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare also decided to raise the age limit for domestic beef required to undergo BSE inspections from the current 20 months to 30 months.
Cattle parts at high risk of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, are removed from all domestic and imported beef. The draft will limit that measure for cattle over 30 months old, although part of the bowel and tonsils will continue to be removed regardless of the animal's age.
The draft must be assessed by the Food Safety Commission of the Cabinet Office before the new rules become official. The ministry plans to submit the draft on Dec. 19.
In October 2001, the government started BSE screening for all domestic beef carcasses that pass through slaughterhouses, but it changed the system in 2005 to require testing only for cattle older than 20 months.
But all prefectures have continued blanket testing for all cattle.
- « Prev
- Next »