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Japan Has No Plan to Change Beef Import Rules, Official Says

23 May 2007

JAPAN - Japan has no immediate plan to alter conditions on beef imported from the U.S. and Canada, even though a world veterinary body lowered its risk assessment of the meat, a senior Japanese official said.

The World Organization for Animal Health voted yesterday to give the North American countries its "controlled-risk'' rating for the brain-wasting disease, also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

"This doesn't mean we will immediately change our rulings on importing'' U.S. beef, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, Japan's chief cabinet secretary told reporters at a regular press briefing in Tokyo today. "It is important to take steps based on scientific evidence, especially risks judged by our food safety committee.''

The new designation by the veterinary group in Paris means measures taken to control the ailment are effective and that meat from U.S. cattle of any age can be safely traded, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said yesterday.

Japan was among about 60 countries to ban U.S. beef after a BSE-infected cow was found in a Washington state herd in December 2003. Japan, the largest buyer of U.S. beef before the ban, resumed imports in July.

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Source: Bloomberg


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