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Okinawa Steakhouses Suffer From Government Beef Ban

Date Posted: 2004-03-19

The end of American beef in Japanese restaurants is beginning to take its toll, especially on steakhouses. The Japanese government placed a ban on importing American beef last November following reports of mad cow disease in the western U.S. Existing stocks have long since dried up, forcing restaurants to change their menus.

Some have turned to high priced Australian and New Zealand beef, but the restauranteurs complain the wholesale cost is very high, and they canít raise their prices yet to compensate.

In fact, some restaurants have dropped beef from the menu completely, switching instead to horsemeat. Restaurant owners admit itís too early to tell what customers reactions will be to horse tongue instead of beef tongue, but say they have had to do something.

Meanwhile, the government is being lobbied to lift the ban and allowed American beef, which restaurants call ďthe best, and the prices are reasonable too.Ē

The Japanese government is insisting on stronger measures than the U.S. regulators will agree to, so the infighting continues. American health officials say itís impossible to check every piece of meat, and thatís what the Japanese are demanding.

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