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Japan Set to Ease Age Restriction on U.S. Beef

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Japan’s health ministry could receive approval for relaxing the age limit on U.S. beef from the nation’s Food Safety Commission as early as this month. Japan intends to move the age limit from 20 months to 30 months next year. A spokesperson at the ministry’s food safety department says the limit could be further relaxed to six years – but didn’t give a timeframe for that change. The Director at the International Animal Health Affairs Office of the Agriculture Ministry says they believe the safety of beef is ensured by eliminating risk materials from the meat rather than limiting the age of cattle.

Japan first banned American beef after the first U.S. discovery of BSE in 2003. In 2005 – the country resumed purchases of U.S. beef – but only from cattle 20 months or younger. The U.S. has called the restriction unnecessarily stringent. Susumu Harada – Senior Director at the U.S. Meat Export Federation office in Tokyo – says U.S. exporters see the 30-month limit as helpful for them to restore sales to pre-ban levels. He says the new rule will help normalize beef trade as U.S. products for overseas markets come mostly from cattle 24 months old and younger.

 

Source: NAFB News service