USDA Wants Beef Talks with Japan

Japan suspended imports from a Nebraska plant based on a misdirected beef shipment last week.

Japan announced Friday that it would suspend imports from a Tyson Foods meat plant in Nebraska, and USDA Secretary Mike Johanns has indicated that he wants to talk to Japan about relaxing their restrictions on U.S. beef.

Tyson says the shipment that arrived in Japan - which was not supposed to go there - was from cattle under 30 months of age and did not contain any materials considered a possible risk for BSE. However, as a particularly strict precaution against bovine spongiform encephalopathy, Japan only accepts U.S. beef imports from cattle 20 months of age or younger, due to evidence that younger cattle are less likely to develop BSE.

Tyson's other plants will continue to ship beef to Japan. So far Japanese officials have not indicated that they will agree to talks with USDA.

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