Doubts linger about North American beef

Japan's Food Safety Commission finalized a report Thursday declaring U.S. and Canadian beef from cattle younger than 21 months will be as safe as domestic beef, as long as the U.S. adheres to certain conditions, according to the Japan Times. The completion of the report secures the way for U.S. imports to resume as early as year's end.

The article also notes that food safety advocates argue that the U.S. policy of testing 10 percent of all cows -- only those that show visible signs of disease -- looks inadequate compared with Japan's requirement that all slaughtered beef cows 21 months or older be tested.

It may take up to two months before North American beef is sold again in Japan, if the government should choose to approve it in December, and it will never again be the unregulated mass import that Japanese consumer were used to before mad cow disease was first found in North America in 2003.

Update from BBC on December 12, 2005 here

BSE/food safety previous

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