Japan suspends imports from one Tyson beef plant

JAPAN - Japan will suspend imports from one U.S. beef facility after it exported a cargo that did not include documents providing the age of the cattle, a Japanese Agriculture Ministry official said on Friday.
calendar icon 16 February 2007
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He said the facility, located in Nebraska, was run by Tyson Foods Inc. , the largest U.S. meat company.

"We are still checking all the details, and we are seeking information from the United States," the official said.

He added: "Until we have all the details, all shipments from the plant will be suspended."

The United States has said the cargo may have been shipped by mistake, the ministry said in a statement.

Last year, Japan agreed to resume imports of U.S. beef, which had been banned since the United States found a case of mad cow disease in 2003, but only on condition that the meat came from cattle aged up to 20 months.

The Agriculture Ministry said it had decided to suspend imports because it could not confirm whether the age of the cattle met the agreed guidelines.

Younger cattle are believed to have a lower risk of developing mad cow disease.

On hearing the news, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters that food safety was extremely important.

But he added that the current case was different from the previous case in that nothing dangerous was in the meat.

Abe was referring to a U.S. beef shipment that arrived in January 2006 and contained banned meat parts.

Source: Reuters
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