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Japan refuses efforts to ease U.S. beef import restrictions

Date Posted: 2007-04-14

Supermarket cooler cases filled with American beef won’t be happening on a large scale any time soon.

Efforts by the US to convince Japan to ease its stringent beef import rules fell by the wayside in meetings this past week, refusing to accept the word of a global agency that will set safety standards beginning in May. The Japanese negotiating team insisted America must accept additional Japanese meat inspections of U.S. facilities to be sure they comply with rules created by an earlier agreement.

The U.S. says controls triggered by mad cow disease three years ago are sufficient.

Japan was the world’s largest importer of American beef before the 2003 outbreak of mad cow disease. One reason for insisting on the more restrictive Japanese measures was presented at the latest meeting, when it told the U.S. to explain why an American meatpacking plant sent a shipment that may violate the agreement terms.

Tokyo blocked imports from Cargill Meat Solutions Corporation after several tons of ox tongue thought to be from cattle more than 20 months old were being brought into Japan. The Dodge City, Kansas plant had been warned in February about importing to Japan meat not meeting standards.

Four of 250 cases of meat had no U.S. government certificates.

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