July 25, 2016


Japan may abolish BSE testing on domestic cattle



Japan is set to abolish mad cow-disease testing for cattle 48 months old and up, after considering findings that risks to human health from abolishing so-called age-based test were negligible. 


According to a report released by the US Department of Agriculture's Foreign Agricultural Service in Japan, a sub-committee of the Japanese Food Safety Commission (FSC) agreed with a December 2015 proposal by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) to abolish Japan's current age-based testing of domestic cattle for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease).


Japan started BSE testing in 2001, following its first confirmed case of BSE.  At present, it requires all cattle 48 months of age and older to be tested for BSE. The December 2015 MHLW proposal was predicated on three factors: 1.) Japan's ruminant feed ban has been and remains effective; 2.) Japan has not detected a single case of classical BSE since the age-based testing threshold was raised to 48 months of age and older; and 3.) Cattle developing atypical BSE are almost over 96 months of age.  


The draft report from the FSC sub-committee recommends that cattle 24 months of age and older and demonstrating symptoms of central nervous system diseases will still continue to undergo test for BSE. 


The FSC said it welcomes public comment until August 11, after which it will finalise the sub-committee's report and submit a regulatory recommendation to MHLW.


MHLW will then conduct outreach events with key stakeholders across the country, including consumer groups, producer groups, prefectural governments and legislators. It will also publish a draft revision to the relevant Ministerial Ordinance, initiating a subsequent 30-day public comment period.


After considering information collected during the public comment period, MHLW will finalise its draft and revise the Ministerial Ordinance accordingly.

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