December 22, 2011


Japan finds prohibited spine in US beef imports


Frozen US beef imported by a Japanese company in July found that it contained spinal columns feared to cause mad cow disease and barred from importation into Japan, the Japanese government said Wednesday (Dec 21).


It is the fourth such finding since Japan allowed US beef imports to resume in July 2006 after a ban amid concerns over the disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, farm and health ministry officials said.


The importer in Tokyo's Minato Ward reported a box with a blank health certificate to the ward office and a probe found spinal columns were contained in the box of about 28 kilogrammes of beef, the officials said.


The government identified the shipper of the beef in question as the Grand Island plant operated by meat processor Jbs Swift & Co., suspended receiving imports from the plant and asked the USDA to investigate the company.


Under a Japan-US bilateral agreement, US firms exporting beef to Japan are required to exclude brains, spinal columns and other specific risk materials that could cause the disease.

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