Japan Lifts An Export Ban On Shipments From California Meatpacker

Wednesday, July 4th 2007, 9:06 am
By: News On 6

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan lifted an export ban on a California meatpacker Wednesday imposed earlier this year after the company sent a shipment that appeared to violate restrictions aimed at controlling the spread of mad cow disease.

Tokyo lifted the ban on Jobbers Meat Packing Co. of Los Angeles after reviewing a U.S. Department of Agriculture report explaining the reasons for the error and the steps taken to correct it, Japan's Agriculture and Health Ministries said in a joint statement.

The ban was imposed in March after inspectors found a shipment from Jobbers that appeared to contain 188 boxes of beef sausage.

Japan forbids the import of U.S. products such as sausage that contain processed beef under restrictions aimed at controlling the threat of mad cow disease, the common name for bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

The sausage was later found to be made of chicken and pork despite beef being listed on its ingredients.

All of the other products in the shipment were found to be eligible for export to Japan, and the company has tightened its system for verifying shipment contents to prevent a recurrence, the USDA said in its report.

Japan banned imports of American beef in December 2003 after the first case of mad cow disease was found in the U.S.

The ban was eased in December 2005, but tightened again the following month after prohibited spinal bones were found in a veal shipment. Tokyo eased the restrictions again last July, but allowed only meat from cows 20 months old or younger to enter Japan.

In February, Japan stopped beef imports from a Lexington, Neb., processing plant operated by Tyson Foods Inc. after finding boxes of beef that had not been verified as from cattle 20 months old or younger.