September 22, 2008


Japan lifts import ban on two US beef packers

Japan has removed a ban on beef imports from Smithfield Beef Group and National Beef California LP, effective immediately, according to the Agriculture Ministry.


The decision was made due to a positive review on the companies' steps to improve safety measures following unauthorised shipments containing parts believed to pose a risk of mad cow disease.


Japan suspended shipments from a Smithfield plant in January after meat from a 21-month old cow was found. Imports from a National Beef plant was also suspended in April when a spinal cord was found in its shipment.


The ministry said its onsite inspection in August at 10 authorised US meatpacking facilities, including the suspended two, confirmed the plants had taken measures to prevent banned parts from slipping into boxes for shipment to Japan.


Japan disallows imports of beef from cattle that are above 20-months old, as well as spinal columns, brain tissue and other risk-specific materials.

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