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Saturday, January 21, 2006

 

Japan again bans US beef amid fears of mad cow disease


VOA: Canadian beef on display in a Tokyo store


You would think that US shippers would take special care to be sure that beef exported to Japan is safe, especially in view of criticism that the Japanese government lifted the ban only to please President Bush just before his recent visit.

But the Voice of America reports that
Japan has again banned all imports of U.S. beef, just a couple of weeks after allowing a partial resumption of shipments.
Public anger is high here, after the discovery by customs agents of spinal material in a shipment of veal chops from New York. Consumer organizations are expressing outrage that after last month's partial lifting of a two-year ban on American beef, one of the first shipments contained material that could contain bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease.
Click here to listen to the VOA report (via Nippon Goro Goro). For a taste of Japanese reaction, see the Daily Yomiuri story Consumer trust shattered / Delivery of suspicious U.S. beef will be hard to forgive. This article includes the estimate that
one out of every 1 million U.S. cows aged 30 months or older is infected with mad cow disease.
Beef exported to Japan is supposed to be from animals 20 months or younger, but there is no restriction on what can be sold here. Just how many Americans are lucky enough to score a taste of that one-in-a-million cow mentioned in the Yomiuri story?

The lax American view is exemplified in this snippet from an AP/Canadian Press article posted on foodconsumer.org:
Philip Peerless, president of Atlantic Veal and Lamb, the Brooklyn company that sent a shipment of meat to Japan containing bone the Asian country considers at risk for mad cow disease, was cited as saying in a statement that it regrets the move, but that the product is safe, adding, "Were this product shipped to San Francisco, there would be no question about its safety."
A Knight Ridder Newspaper article confirms that Americans will willingly eat what is banned for export to Japan:
The meat that brought the ban would be found on many U.S. restaurant menus as veal chops or veal loin chops, said Janet Riley of the American Meat Institute, a packing industry group.
Nor do those of us who live in the USA have the benefit of vigilant Japanese customs agents. If spinal material were discovered in beef shipped to Safeway, for example, would they discontinue selling made-in-USA beef, or would they simply chuck the offending evidence into the trash can and sell the beef anyway?

You know the answer. Enjoy your hamburger.




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