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Japan suspends U.S. plant's beef amid mad cow fears

45 Comments

Japan has suspended beef shipments from an American meatpacking plant after finding cattle parts banned under an agreement to prevent the spread of mad cow disease, the agriculture ministry said Saturday.

Japanese quarantine inspectors found bovine spinal columns in one of 732 boxes sent by Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc, which arrived in Japan last month, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said in a statement. The box contained 35 pounds (16 kilograms) of chilled short loin with spinal bones, which were not released commercially, said ministry official Goshi Nakata.

The suspension only affects Tyson's factory in Lexington, Nebraska, one of 46 meatpacking plants approved to export beef to Japan.

It was the second suspension for the Lexington factory, Nakata said. Japan slapped a four-month ban on beef shipments from the same plant in February 2007 after finding two boxes of beef lacking verifications to show they came from cattle that met Japan's safety standards.

The Japanese ministry also asked the U.S. Department of Agriculture to investigate how the box containing the banned parts ended up in Japan.

Japan will await results of a U.S. investigation to determine the penalty for the Tyson factory, the ministry said.

Japan banned all U.S. beef imports in 2003 after the first case of mad cow disease was discovered in the United States. Japan resumed buying American beef in 2006 after a bilateral trade agreement setting new safety standards.

Mad cow disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy, is a degenerative nerve disease in cattle. In humans, eating meat products contaminated with the illness is linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare and fatal malady.

Under the bilateral trade agreement, U.S. exporters must remove spinal columns, brain tissue and other parts considered linked to mad cow disease. U.S. beef shipments to Japan must also come only from cattle age 20 months or younger, which are believed to pose less of a risk.

Washington has repeatedly criticized Japan for its tough import restrictions, which authorities say have no scientific basis.

U.S. officials have urged Japan to allow imports of beef from cattle aged up to 30 months, a widely used safety standard elsewhere.

© Wire reports

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

45 Comments
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"bovine spinal columns" would make a great name for a rock band.

Anyway, Aussie beef doesn't taste as good as US beef. Are we in for another run of bad tasing beef or pork replacing beef for another 6 months? I hope not...

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I do not see any reason as to why US authorities are complaining about this. Japan is a customer. They do not want spinal bones or whatever in their orders. They are PAYING for it. They have the right to complain or stop purchasing when their demands are not met.

Allow defected goods in your shipment. Get caught. And then start complaining Japan's rules are too strict. Sour grapes is all what this is.

I am wondering whether anyone takes the responsibility for this in US. Do the trade authorities reprimand those who break such rules since they endanger the rest of law-abiding companies in case Japan puts an all-out ban on US? Gotta google it..

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I'd stick with aussie beef, no matter what the government does with the american beef... they are safer anyway.

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that's right Japan, kick the US while its (currency) is down. play Australia and America off each other to get the best prices, there isn't much of a difference between the meat quality (judging by the mixed opinions in the comments section).

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Oh my, what's this?

Beef exports to Japan fall 8pc in September

11/10/2009 4:00:00 AM

Australian beef and veal exports to Japan in September fell 8pc year-on-year to 27,734 tonnes (shipped weight), according to Meat and Livestock Australia.

MLA reports that trading was impacted by various factors, such as Japan's recessive economy and sluggish consumer demand along with the rising Aussie dollar, and subsequent reduction in meat packing activity in Australia.

http://theland.farmonline.com.au/news/nationalrural/livestock/cattle/beef-exports-to-japan-fall-8pc-in-september/1645465.aspx

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Aussie beef is dry and tasteless. American beef, being fed a better diet is much better quality. Japanese beef melts on a BBQ and falls straight though the rungs into the fire. Bring back thick juicy US beef.

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Aussie Beef is the tastiest and safest in the world.

Guess which country's overseas businesses owns many of the cattle "stations" in Australia.

Would I be surprised if DNA tests on the "discovered" spines proved the country of origin to (cough) not be the U.S.? No.

Seven years ago:

AMH-Nippon opt for global US quota

The nation's largest meat processor, Australia Meat Holdings, has joined Japanese-owned Nippon Meats in backing a quota allocated on global performance.

That would allow the US quota to be divided up based on the amount of global exports a processor makes from Australia, leaving the lion's share to the bigger processors.

AMH and Nippon have joined the Global 100, a group comprising 44 export processors, 44 feedlots and 12 domestic meatworks.

AMH joint chief executive, Peter White, says it's now up to the industry's Red Meat Advisory Council to tough out a position to put to the Agriculture Minister.

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apec, nothing is easy when pride is involved...

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It seems fairly easy to resolve - sell Japan only meat under 20 months, and those in the US who advocate that 20 months plus meat is safe, eat ONLY 20 months plus meat. The "no BSE advocates" should be eating the meat.

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plenty of nice Aussie steaks here,Disillusioned: http://www.themeatguy.jp/app/en/products/index/4

although I am quite happy to tuck into a meat pie today for lunch. :) It is hard to take some of these companies seriously when they repeatedly mess up and stick spinal parts into their deliveries..they need to work a bit on their quality control.It is almost as though someone is trying to sabotauge their trade on purpose.i bet the management is ticked off.

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Aussie, Aussie, Aussie beef! Oi! Oi! Oi!

The US beef in question does not go to super markets. It goes to restaurant chains to be boiled up for curry rice and other stews making it even more dangerous cos it could infect hundreds or even thousands of people 'if' the meat is tainted.

I would love to be able to buy a nice 16oz Aussie T-Bone steak in Japan. I will have to settle for Aussie rump for tonight's barby.
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That really is the bottom line = they do not care, it is only about profit and do not take any responsibility.

=Look hard to find a local butcher or farmer and pay more for the real thing. =You are doing everyone a favor by not supporting the crooks.

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its like going shopping at the local "super" market with shelves stacked by spotty teens who couldn't give a *** treating your food dangerously and without care.. in fact playing with it for their own amusement only.

Never understanding the customer and never understanding or caring about how they might care about food and what they are buying.

No wonder the buyer is cautious and doesn't trust. No mater the science or "standards" or "Agreements" or "promises" written on paper ( for what they are worth - not much).

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hmmmmmmmmmmm 'downer cattle'

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Like I said, Aussie beef is safe and tastes better. So why mess around with spinal column tainted beef from America?

Cicada is dead-set spot on, Aussie Beef is the tastiest and safest in the world. In fact, I went to a BBQ tonight and enjoyed Aussie Beef (done in a Brazilian style). Try it, it is unbelievably tasty, safe and surprisingly cheap! Healthier than Japanese Beef too.

Aussie Beef. The Best Beef in the world.

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Japan makes an effort to check for BSE, and several cases have been found, but I am sure the system is not watertight. That is no reason for anyone else to be complacent.

Likely BSE cows in the States such as those unable to stand by themselves are given innocuous names like 'Downer Cattle'. Some go into the food chain, others are sold as feed for mink farms for example, where BSE has turned up in mink. Whatever the reality, the surface is all smoothed over and patted down, and the record is kept 'clean'. Lots of articles and books written on this subject if you are interested. If you are not, then there is nothing to discuss.

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Taking chances:

US Beef: 1/1,000,000 chance that beef will have BSE. (test about 400k cattle a year) Toyota (Lexus) cars = you have the ability to change your floor mats and you have the option of putting your car in neutral or even turning off the car. His car was a loaner, but a police officer has a ton of time behind the wheel = 100% driver error (Libs in California will not like me saying that) 0% car error, yet Toyota is taking responsibility.

Life is chance and humans make errors (it is error to human!)

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The "mad cow" scare is a red herring as part of trade negotiations. The auto and steel guys should go beat the crap out of tysons for slipping up and giving them an issue. For the record, there has not been a case of mad cow in the US herds. The two cases were Canadian dairy cattle that were slaughtered in the US. The contaminated feed that causes BSE was only distributed in EU and UK countries like Canada and (wait for it ) Australia. So enjoy all that SAFE Aussie and NZ beef

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To heck with BSE, I'll take my chances with a fat & juicy ribeye any day!

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mygrain - "American beef is slaughtered at 6 months of age, common knowledge for anyone following this story year after year.."

6 months of age is veal.

Common knowledge for anyone who has ever been in a butcher shop.

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A lot of facts in the above comments are off a bit, bse has been discovered, once, in an animal 16 months of age. Most American beef is harvested between 20 and 24 months, animals that grrade prime tend to be at the higher end of that range. All cattle slaughtered in japan really are tested (no test no label no premium--all slaughterhouses are government run. But they only kill about 5 mil head a year vs over 100m in the US. The Americans don't want to test it all because of cost that has to be applied to a few cuts from each carcass and the power of the big companies has made it illegal for small plants that want to test to for export to do it. The Australians have never had a case of bse, they also don't test for it--this does not make their beef any more or less safe than the US, it's all safe, safer than walking...

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"Japan banned all U.S. beef inports in 2003 after the first case of mad cow disease was discovered"

And how many cases of mad cow disease have been discovered in Japan? And yet wagyu continues to be sold without restriction. Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

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Cicada, so let me see if I got this right. You are condemning the US beef industry for honest mistakes yet you concede that Japan engages in more deceitful and dishonest practices. So why not say so from the start? And what does my nationality have to do with this discussion ? Does labeling offer some kind of support to your position ? This might explain why you choose to ignore the science, out.

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If it is all safe, then why won't they test it all?

because if the statement made by mygrain about no possibility of BSE in cattle under 21 months of age is true then that would negate the need for the test on cattle under 21 months. If this is false then you have a very good argument for 100% testing, it's that simple. So I ask again is it true or false? Is there definitive research pointing either way?

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Cicada, one last simple question for you. Do you really think, with all of the food scandals, mislabeling, and corporate culture of deceit and lies found consistently in the Japanese food industry that Japan is really testing 100% of its beef ? A simple yes or no will do.

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mygrain:

Didn't you say

I’ll not be squabbling back and forth

but now you are squabbling. Just like an American who cannot be trusted with beef exports! You say one thing and do another.

as what we see from the domestic suppliers

Here I will agree with you totally. You can never trust the domestic suppliers in Japan. They will swear to you that it is not American beef, and after you serve it to several thousand customers, you discover that it was American beef.

But this is just another reason to ban unsafe beef completely. That way, even with the dishonest suppliers, we can be assured that, though the beef might be sub-quality, at least it will not be deadly.

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Mistakes you say ? Honest ones maybe, but nothing as maliscious or scandalous as what we see from the domestic suppliers. Who are still in business flooding the market with “who- knows-what” as inspectors are busy wasting their time with a scientifically proven product. As for 100% inspections in the US… what exactly is it that you don’t understand about the science. Again, BSE is impossible to generate in cattle at the ages the US is exporting to Japan. What exactly are you going to 100% test for ? And Badsey, speaking of mistakes, It seems some are more deadly than others. I imagine the Saylor family of San Diego would take exception with your comments. Highly insensitive don’t you think. .

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KobeKid:

You simply can’t have BSE in beef under 21 months of age. Is this true or false?

If the regulation of the beef industry is so lax that repeatedly "mistakes" are made, protocol not followed, and laws not enforced, then what difference does your argument make?

You can't possibly assume that all exporters are adhering to the age limit. (and you also cannot assume that the biased research was adequately done in the first place)

The most telling thing about Americans is that they were unwilling to test all of their cattle for BSE. If it is all safe, then why won't they test it all? That would be the simplest way to assure safety, but they don't do it, because they know that some infections would come to light.

They are willing to take a chance that infections will result, because they are confident about their damage control plans. That won't be much help for you, when you were stupid enough to gobble up untested American beef.

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Cicada,

You simply can’t have BSE in beef under 21 months of age.

is this true or false? I noticed you didn't respond to this statement which seems to be the heart of mygrain's post.

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mygrain:

I’ll not be squabbling back and forth with you about this. I believe in facts, not scare tactics. American beef is proven safe

Yeah, whatever. But brains and spinal columns were forbidden by Japanese and yet the Americans "made a mistake". And it is not the first mistake. Doh.

You say American beef is safe, but Americans were unwilling to do tests on 100% of the cattle, so really you have no idea how many mistakes are being made and how much infection is taking place. Good luck eating American beef. Ten or twenty years from now you might regret that urge to eat meat that has not been thoroughly tested.

Like I said, Aussie beef is safe and tastes better. So why mess around with spinal column tainted beef from America?

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Sorry Cicada but you are going to have to explain in scientific terms just how spinal cords from the beef being shipped from any US factory is “unsafe”. American beef is slaughtered at 6 months of age, common knowledge for anyone following this story year after year.. This explains the final paragraph that has the Americans complaining about Japan’s unreasonable and unscientific concerns. You simply can’t have BSE in beef under 21 months of age. The world knows this also, which is why American beef has been certified and licensed for export many years before Japan, which just got their certification earlier this year. Japan still insists on exporting it’s beef at the highly risky later stages. Japanese should really be much more concerned with their domestic supply. With the common practice of mislabeling food products you’d think the local market would be completely closed. In any case Cicada I’ll not be squabbling back and forth with you about this. I believe in facts, not scare tactics. American beef is proven safe, can this nation say the same thing about it’s exported products…. Like floor mats for example ?

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Actually US beef is more expensive than Australian probably just as safe(I think 2 diagnosed cases of vCJB in the US about 80 in the UK and less than 200 worldwide, statistacally pretty insignificant). Japan's real beef, forgive the pun, is more with the apparently inherent inability of the large packers to meet(pun again) specification. Their line speeds are so fast that they can't keep their boxes sorted, how can you trust them to age verify or keep risk material from creeping downstream? There are small processors that are willing to test and willing to stay on spec but big boys like Tyson keep them out. I wish i knew what dumpsters those t-bones are going into though...

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Tyson is so big they just shift production to another plant -this action has no real bite. These plants are so automated and such little time is taken on the product that these mistakes will continue to happen.

You need togo to the smaller manufactures to get the product you desire, but of course U.S. Beef (big beef manufactures) doesn't want that. Money also needs to be spent on "prion" diseases like BSE (a portion of Japanese beef money should go toward the research).

=buy your products from companies that care. A floormat can be replaced but your body is your most cherished asset =without health you are done ---> might as well stick a fork in you.

Japan could easily set-up U.S. beef slaughter-houses for Japan beef (and even market it worldwide).

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mygrain: But as any educated person knows, the Americans are shipping beef products scientifically incapable of containing BSE.

Yeah, sure. Did you read this part of the article?

Japanese quarantine inspectors found bovine spinal columns in one of 732 boxes sent by Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc.

Spinal columns are forbidden because they are dangerous, "as any educated person knows".

America does not even test all of its cattle, so it is imperative to restrict the dangerous parts such as spinal column. Much preferable would be to revert to a total ban on American beef, since Aussie beef is both safe and tasty.

Unfortunately politics is more important than public safety and Japanese people are stupid enough to gulp down American beef.

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Simple solution: Import more Aussie Beef. Sure, it's a little more expensive than rock-bottom priced U.S. Beef (only reason that stuff still sells), but it's safe and it's the best!

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Must be a slow news day. I mean really, front page ? I could understand if the piece of “bone” in question actually contained BSE. But as any educated person knows, the Americans are shipping beef products scientifically incapable of containing BSE. My suggestion is for the various news outlets to spare us the scare tactics and simply let us know if any BSE infected beef actually arrives on Japans docks. Or better yet, save the front page headline with some real news should any Japanese citizen actually fall ill or even die from tainted American beef. Floor mats are front page news here in Japan, not bones ? Gimme a break.

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Here is the odd bit about it though. They are banning shipments from only ONE factory in Nebraska? Wow. It seems picky, but only one factory? Someone appears to be bending over (backward?) to be conciliatory here.

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Oh my!

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Here we go again...

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I have never seen nor heard of a spinal cord in US beef delivered to an American grocery store

Cause no one cares in the US. It wouldn't be news.

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Three strikes! You're out! The most saddening point of this is, most of the US beef imported to Japan does not end up in the supermarket. It goes to restaurant chains where you have no idea what you are eating. Hopefully, this will allow more quality Aussie export rump into Japan. My barby misses it!

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HAHAHAHA!!! And this is JUST coming on the heels of the US pushing yet again for Japan to lift the ban on its products?? PERFECT timing!

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At least this time the ban is on the particular shipper/supplier instead of the entire industry!

Man, I want a rib-eye...time to call The Meat Guy...

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Again?

Surely they're just testing the waters to see how much Hatoyama will let them get away with?

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So Badsey, are you starting the ball rolling, or not? ;8)

My guess is that in the beefs between the US, Japan and Australia we have invented a perpetual-motion machine.

Is it only three times since 2006? Certainly it happened in the brief resumptions before that too.

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