Japan "will consult with consumers" on US beef

According to NHK, Japanese Agriculture Minister Shoichi Nakagawa has told the U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns that Japan must take all necessary steps, including consulting consumers, before discussing any resumption of American beef imports:

Mr Johanns told Mr Nakagawa that US officials have revised their inspection procedures and meat-packing authorizations, as promised in a recent experts' meeting. Mr Johanns said the US Congress has run out of patience waiting for Japan to resume imports of US beef. Mr Nakagawa said the Japanese government must hold meetings to hear consumers' views.

Running out of patience? That is a really stupid argument. Japanese consumers are indeed cautious after learning the details about the lack of controls regarding the U.S. and Canadian BSE situation.

Food Safety Citizens' Watch has a website with the viewpoints of what Japanese consumer organizations are saying, views that the U.S. Embassy is hopefully transmitting back to Washington:

In our opinion, the BSE countermeasures in those two countries are completely insufficient. We have pointed out again and again that even if the export program is adhered to, with inspections, traceability, removal of SRM, and strict feed controls to exclude meat and bone meal, there is indeed a danger to us Japanese consumers and producers.

In addition there are still concerns about cattle cannibalism, as the U.S. continues to carelessly disregard BSE countermeasures and uses meat bone meal, beef tallow and blood meal as milk replacer and feed for domestic animals. The U.S. does not ban vertebral columns in their domestic beef, and this is also a large problem.

Make no mistake, Japan is closely monitoring news like this and this.


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