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US meat packers undergo Japanese plant inspections

Date Posted: 2007-06-01

Thirty-five American beef processing plants have been approved for importing beef to Japan, and inspectors are now checking those plants to be sure everything is safe for Japanese consumers.

After an extended ban, American beef is on its way back to Japanese store shelves and restaurants, but only as inspectors confirm itís totally safe. Beef exports have been limited to cattle 20 months and younger, a move officials say will virtually eliminate the possibility of dangerous meats getting into the country. The two-week inspection tour will confirm facilities cleanliness and conformance with the international agreement signed more than a year ago to insure against a reoccurrence of mad cow disease.

American beef was banned in December 2003 after the first cases of mad cow disease were discovered. Beef imports resumed 18 months ago, but a month later were stopped because of agreement violations. The latest restrictions were lifted ten months ago, and inspectors want to clear the way for full import volumes to resume.

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