February 2, 2006


No errors tolerated for US beef exports



Top executives of US meat packing companies were told during a Jan 24 Washington DC summit meeting that no shipping errors will be tolerated for US beef exports to any country. 


The USDA also announced that it will not tolerate human errors by its own Food Safety & Inspection Service in certifying exports to any country.


The ultimatum was given after Japan banned US beef imports again when spinal material was found in a shipment from Atlantic Veal & Lamb Inc. arrived in Japan.


Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said the ineligible shipment was exported to Japan due to human error. He pointed the fault at the exporter and USDA personnel for failing to identify the shipment as being ineligible. 


He said the failure to meet the requirements of an agreement the US negotiated with Japan was unacceptable. He emphasised that ensuring compliance with all trade agreements will require diligence and absolute attention to detail on both the meat packing companies' part and USDA's part.


It took the US beef industry and the US government two years to re-open the Japanese market, which was worth US$1.4 billion in sales in 2003. Johanns would not speculate on how long it may take for Japan to resume importing US beef.

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