Japan did not inspect U.S. meatpacking plants

Japan did not keep its promise to send officials to check U.S. meatpacking plants before resuming U.S. beef imports in December, farm minister Shoichi Nakagawa admitted Monday. "It was not possible to check if conditions for resuming U.S. beef imports were being met until we actually resumed imports," Nakagawa said in response to questions in the Parliament.

The Japan Times also reports that Japanese officials visited 11 facilities, in California, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska and Texas. But not all U.S. facilities processing Japan-bound beef are open to inspectors. Because Japan has few qualified officials to make the inspections, the checks mostly targeted documents.

Seems Japan is partly to blame for the latest beef scandal, but still I cannot understand why the U.S. officials didn't know that spine was not permitted in Japan. Does it mean the U.S. inspector (as well as the meat company) has no education about BSE and how mad cow disease is transmitted?

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