October 11, 2009

Japan puts temporary ban on Beef imports from US meat packer Tyson

Japan’s agriculture minister issued a temporary Beef import ban on US meat packer Tyson on Saturday. The import ban was issued immediately after Japanese inspectors discovered bovine spinal columns in one of the boxes shipped from Tyson Fresh Meats Inc

At the moment the temporary ban is only for

Tyson's factory in Lexington, Nebraska, one of 46 meatpacking plants approved to export beef to Japan.

The other Tyson meat packing plants can still send packed beef as usual. This is not the first time the Lexington plant had been banned from Japan. There was a four month ban in 2007 when Japan imported and inspected meat that did not meet Japan’s safety standards.

Japan's new ruling has proposed a tough response to any violation to a bilateral safety agreement, including a blanket ban on US beef shipments.

Under the bilateral trade agreement, US exporters must remove spinal columns, brain tissue and other parts considered linked to mad cow disease. US beef shipments to Japan must also come only from cattle age 20 months or younger, which are believed to pose less of a risk.

US officials have urged Japan to allow imports of beef from cattle aged at least up to 30 months, a widely used safety standard elsewhere, and possibly scrap age restrictions.

Japan banned all US beef imports in 2003 after the first case of mad cow disease was discovered in the United States. Japan resumed importing American beef in 2006 after the bilateral trade agreement setting new safety standards.

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