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Japan primed to ease beef import age rule


By RICHARD SMITH


For the Capital Press


TOKYO -- Japan's age limit on U.S. and Canadian beef may rise from 20 to 30 months as soon as the end of next month.


The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare's Pharmaceutical Affairs and Food Sanitation Council will start studying recommendations regarding raising the age limit Jan. 28. If the council acknowledges the recommendations, it will within two weeks start procedures to raise the age limit, the agricultural daily Nihon Nogyo Shimbun reported.


The age limit will then go up to 30 months between late February and early April. Meat from French and Dutch cattle, also banned because of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, will also be let back in but with an age limit of 20 months. Also because of BSE, Japan banned beef from the European Union in 2000.


Japan banned beef from the U.S. and Canada in 2003 because of BSE. Beef from both countries started coming back in 2007, limited to meat from cattle aged 20 months or younger as an anti-BSE measure.


The Japanese Cabinet's Food Safety Commission recommended last October the easing of the anti-BSE measures on beef from the U.S., Canada, France and Holland.



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