Japan Food Panel Approves U.S. Beef
Goverment expected to make border decision Monday.

(Dec. 8, 2005) — Japan’s Food Safety Commission (FSC) today declared U.S. beef to be as safe as it’s own, The Associated Press reported.

After months of deliberation, the panel’s final recommendation to end the two-year ban on U.S. beef will now go to Japanese government officials, who, according to Japan Today, are expected to make a decision as early as Monday, Dec. 12. 

Throughout the hard-fought ban, the Japanese government has maintained that its decision would hinge largely on FSC findings. Now that FSC has recommended opening the border to U.S. beef from cattle aged up to 20 months, Japanese media report the country could begin receiving U.S. and Canadian beef by year’s end.

Many Japanese consumers have reservations, however. Yasuhiro Yoshikawa, a member of the FSC panel that considered the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) issue, told AP that more than 50% of public comments the commission collected prior to making its decision were against the resumption of U.S. imports. Consumers voiced similar concern in a Kyodo News survey this week, the article noted, with three-fourths of respondents saying they would be unwilling to eat U.S. beef.

Commission members have defended their findings, however, maintaining that U.S. beef poses no greater risk of BSE infection than Japanese beef, provided import restrictions are met.

— by Crystal Albers, Angus Productions Inc.

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