Vive Le Canada

Japan halts U.S. beef imports
Date: Friday, January 20 2006
Topic:


January 20, 2006

Japan halts U.S. beef imports
By LIBQUAID

TOKYO (AP) — Just 51/2 weeks after lifting its ban on U.S. beef, Japan slammed the door shut again Friday, saying a recent shipment contained material it considered at risk for mad cow disease.

“This is a pity given that imports had just resumed,” Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi told reporters. “I received the agriculture minister’s report over the telephone with his recommendation that the imports be halted and I think it is a good idea.”

The Japanese government plans to halt the imports until it receives a report from the U.S. government on how the risky material got into the shipment, an Agriculture Ministry statement said.

The statement said ministry inspectors found material from cattle backbone in three out of 41 boxes in a 858 pound shipment of beef from Atlantic Veal & Lamb Inc. All of the beef in the shipment was destroyed, the statement said.

In Washington, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said the U.S. government is investigating the shipment and investigators are being dispatched to Japan. He also said the plant that exported the meat in question is now barred from shipping more beef to Japan and the government inspector who cleared the shipment may be disciplined. Extra inspectors are also being sent to every plant that exports meat to Japan and unannounced inspections have been ordered, Johans said.

“We take this matter very seriously,” the secretary said in a statement. “We are in communication with Japanese officials and we will continue that dialogue to assure them that we take this matter very seriously and we are acting swiftly and firmly.”

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