Meat Group Sees More U.S. Beef To Japan, Russia

US - Sales of U.S. beef to Japan could double by August, while sales to Russia could start by year's end if inspections of U.S. beef plants go well, a meat industry group said on Wednesday.
calendar icon 24 May 2007
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Japanese inspectors are visiting U.S. beef plants this week and Russia inspectors are due in September, the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) said in a conference call on Wednesday.

The inspections are to assure the two countries that U.S. beef production methods protect against mad cow disease.

Japan was the top overseas buyer of U.S. beef before December 2003

"Hopefully this will increase our exports. It is estimated that we could by August have a doubling of our exports," Phil Seng, USMEF chief executive, said of the Japanese market.

In the first three months of this year, Japan has bought 28.35 million lbs of U.S. beef and beef products. Mexico is No. 1 for that period with 134.36 million.

Japan's plant inspections are due to be completed on Friday, Seng said.

Japan, Russia, and many other countries banned U.S. beef in December 2003 when the United States reported its first case of mad cow disease. Japan resumed beef purchases on a restricted basis in 2006, while Russia has yet to buy.

The concern is that scientists believe humans can get a similar fatal brain disease if they eat tainted materials from beef cattle with mad cow disease.

Japan was the top overseas buyer of U.S. beef before December 2003, while Russia then had bought 65,000 metric tons of U.S. beef and beef products annually, USMEF said.

Source: Washington Post

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