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Infected goat meat imported to Okinawa

Date Posted: 2002-09-06

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry say that their inspectors had discovered that 19 goats grown at a livestock farm in Nagano Prefecture had been infected by a virus that affects their brain and spinal cord. 15 of those had been exported to Okinawa and their meat sold to various restaurants specializing in goat dishes. Goat is a traditional delicacy here.

However, officials at the ministry stress that although the virus causes similar symptoms in the goats as the BSE virus in cows, the virus has never been observed to transfer to humans and cause sickness.

Meanwhile, Okinawa Prefecture Domestic Animal Environment Section officials are conducting an investigation and are requesting more information from the ministry.

Local proprietors of restaurants serving goat meals worry that this will cause further decline in their business. A similar scare a year ago forced many to change their line of business and some are said to have had to close altogether.

“Goat meat and other parts have been eaten here for centuries, and no one has ever heard that it made someone sick. The Tokyo and Prefecture officials should come clear and tell people that it is safe to eat goat dishes,” said Haruko Miyagi who operates a goat dish restaurant in Heiwa Dori Shopping Mall area in Naha City. “My mother and her grandmother before that sold goat dishes. They are good and give you strength especially in the summertime,” she assures.

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