November 3, 2003
Japan To Continue Its Ban On Canada Beef Imports Through US
Japan's Minister of Agriculture, Yukio Hattori, will ask the United States to ban the exportation of Canadian beef bound for Japan via the United States, due to continued worries over mad cow disease, according to media sources in the Japanese capital.
The Japanese request comes in response to the American intention to start importing veal from Canada early 2004.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, in a written release, said it wants to change regulations on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) to allow live cattle under 30 months to be imported from countries that have BSE but are classified minimal risk because of their prevention and detection procedures.
Interested parties now have 60 days to respond. Based on those comments, the USDA could amend, change or ditch the proposal.
The Japanese decision is based in part on the discovery of a 23-month-old bull that was infected with a variant strain of mad cow disease in Japan last month.
Traditionally scientists generally thought animals under the age of 30 months were safe from the disease.
According to the sources, the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will be requesting that the U.S. start certifying the origin of all its beef products intended for export to ensure that nothing has come from Canada. Under the current American certification system, which started in September, only the location of where the animals are slaughtered is certified.
Both the United States and Japan closed their borders to Canadian cattle and beef products after a single animal was diagnosed with mad cow disease in Alberta last May.
The U.S. and Canadian cattle industries were highly integrated up until the mad cow scare.
Canada has traditionally sold more than 70% of its live cattle to the U.S.
Mad cow disease destroys the brains of affected animals; hence humans eating the spines and brains of these cattle are posed to higher risk of contracting the disease.