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Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2006

Most U.S. beef processors safe: LDP team


Staff writer

Most U.S. beef processing facilities looking to export beef to Japan are taking sufficient measures to satisfy the criteria agreed upon between the United States and Japan, an inspection team of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party said Tuesday.

News photo
Kumiko Ito of the activist group Peace Boat takes a heart-shaped chocolate that reads, "I love you for protecting our lives and safety" to the farm ministry for minister Shoichi Nakagawa, asking the government to keep tight restrictions on U.S. beef.

Toshikatsu Matsuoka, who headed the five-member mission, said the Department of Agriculture should be held responsible for authorizing a facility that did not know the requirements for beef to be exported to Japan. Veal from that facility was found at Narita airport on Jan. 20 with backbones that should have been removed before shipping, prompting Japan to reimpose a ban on U.S. beef.

"Most facilities are doing enough," Matsuoka told a news conference. "The irresponsible system of the agricultural department has caused a great deal of trouble for diligent factories."

A team from the Democratic Party of Japan that visited the U.S. earlier this month said prohibited high-risk parts were not being completely removed from beef processed by Tyson Foods, Inc. The company denied the allegations.

The LDP team was in the U.S. on Friday and Saturday to inspect Tyson and another major processing facility that had been shipping beef to Japan. They did not visit the New York meatpacker that included the spinal material in its shipment because it is no longer on the list of facilities allowed to export to Japan.

Matsuoka also said the central government should check whether measures taken by the U.S. government are efficient before it resumes U.S. beef imports.

Earlier in the day, the inspection team met with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to report the results of the U.S. trip.

It is necessary to get to the bottom of why the spinal-cord incident occurred and take measures to prevent it from happening again, Matsuoka quoted Koizumi as saying.



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