Japan halts beef imports from U.S. plant over safety concerns

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  • 10

    smithinjapan

    You'd think they'd have learned by now, but clearly they have not.

  • 12

    ebisen

    Oh brother - sometimes I just have to wonder what kind of people are put in charge over there, in US... Even after the easing of policies, just don't screw up, and they'll be OK, but that's too much to ask now, isn't it?

  • 1

    saidani

    Australia is the largest exporter of beef to Japan so you shouldn't have any problem getting Aussie beef.

    Regardless, when(if) Japan joins the TPP, its ability to halt US beef imports will be severely limited if not outright lost. You can determine for yourself if that will be a good thing for the Japanese people.

  • -6

    Deplore

    @Dog What do you expect? Northeast Asian countries (South Korea, Japan, China) aren't capitalist - they're neo-mercantilist.

  • 6

    saidani

    Imagine if the US took the same stand on automobile imports and bans those Japan vehicles, such as the Prius (which by the way 0% of it is manufactured in the US), which compete directly with US automobiles and only allowed those crappy box cars into the US?

    The US should do it then. Obviously, there are other considerations. Maybe the massive US debt owned by Japan and the desire to keep a standing military in Japan. Who knows what else.

    In fact, 70% of Toyota cars sold in the US are made in the region (US, Canada, Mexico) and Prius will be built in the US beginning 2015.

    As for the quality of beef from the US and Australia, that would be an issue for the producers. Some studies on the subject tend to ascribe a higher quality to US beef over Australia due to production/raising techniques. Perhaps you should take that issue up with ranchers in Australia.

    Nice personal demagoguery, though.

  • 11

    cleo

    It's one plant that couldn't be bothered to do the requested paperwork, is all. if it wasn't the US, Japan and beef, it wouldn't be news.

    The Japanese use their beef regulations to keep out the US and Australian quality beef

    Exactly which regulations are those? All we read about is the age of the animal and No Bones, please. How does that keep 'quality' beef out?

  • 4

    taj

    I think Canadians are about to start demanding rules as stringent as Japan, following the release of a memo to inspectors at XL's slaughterhouse in Alberta, to ignore feces, intestinal spray and dura matter in non-Japan eligible meat. (that slaughterhouse sickened people in four provinces this year, with eColi.)

  • 2

    JapanGal

    Aussie beef tastes like they mix sand in it.

    Japanese beef is not made to BBQ. It burns and falls through the grills.

    American beef here if you can find it are cut way too thin. I just eat it raw as not worth cooking.

    Seiyu/Walmart imports most American beef and Pork. Too bad the Japanese do not know how to cut it. Thicker cuts though than any other store.

    I saw Oxtail the other day. From Japan...but what place in Japan?...well you know how it is...they stopped telling us after Fukushima.

    Didn't Japan have more cases of Mad Cow Disease than America? Why are they selling Ox Tail but other countries cannot send that here?

    Gets tiring to hear all these excuses about cutting off US beef.

  • -2

    ohayo206

    I'd rather have Tohoko beefinstead.

  • 7

    taj

    From a 2008 memo to inspectors at XL Foods in Canada, that was only recinded this month: “Our number 1 priority is to ensure this standard is met with Japan eligible carcasses,” the memo said of the inspection station. “Ensure that non-Japan-eligible carcasses are not inspected for spinal cord/dura-mater, OCD (other carcass defects) and minor ingesta,” the note continued. “Ignore them.”

    The union representing workers:“There’s one standard for beef being shipped to Japan and there’s another standard for beef being shipped elsewhere. “It is incredible that you could allow material to leave the plant that could have contamination on it just because it’s not going to Japan.

    Seriously, ALL consumers should be as demandind as Japan.

  • 1

    billyshears

  • 0

    HerveEisa

    " beef from ~A~ U.S. meat plant"

    Added the squiggles to emphasize it's from ONE plant.

  • 0

    techall

    Cargoes of beef from a plant of Cargill Inc in Schuyler, Nebraska, which arrived Tokyo on Nov 22, included a package without quarantine documents, and the two ministries asked the U.S. authorities to confirm the age of the cattle concerned.

    ~a ~ package (squiggles add to emphasize it's ONE package).

    So TWO ministries in Japan go right to the U.S. FEDERAL GOVERNMENT to confirm the age of ONE cow because somebody probably misplaced or lost the certificate. If it shows up now, better to just shred it.

  • -1

    andrew-s

    Mmmhh, tasty tasty double standards.

    I'm not a fan of the US, but 1 shipment of US beef missing proper documents = blanket ban. Food from Japan containing radiation levels that of low level radioactive waste = good for you and your children, eat up! We changed the laws, so now it's safe!

  • 5

    Frungy

    andrew-sNov. 30, 2012 - 06:18PM JST Mmmhh, tasty tasty double standards. I'm not a fan of the US, but 1 shipment of US beef missing proper documents = blanket ban

    Read the article again:

    Japan on Thursday stopped importing beef from a U.S. meat plant

    This is not a blanket ban on all U.S. beef, it's a ban on a single plant that failed to meet the documentation standards.

  • 2

    cechanju

    How simple is it to send the documents... Sure Japan is being komakai, but that's a buyers prerogative.
    The US processors know the rules. They also know that Japan is very strict about the rules.

    The EU demands absolute traceback paddock to plate - and I think Japan now has a similar system domestically. (No doubt someone will correct me if I am wrong on that.)

    I don't buy US beef because of the routine use of Hormone Growth Promotants and antibiotics across almost the entire industry. (Not to mention Bovine Somatropins in dairy cattle...)

    I wish US consumers / govt were a little more demanding about the quality there.

  • 0

    Mike Critchley

    Yes, let's not use US beef due to one minor oversight...and instead use some of that yummy radioactive beef from Tohoku. Ingesting cesium is, after all, not a major concern, given that the Japanese government is happy to set "safe limits." And it didn't kill those school children they fed it to in Yokohama a year plus ago, so it must be safer than US beef.

    This ban is so ridiculous and hypocritical. Move on. Nothing new to see here...

  • 0

    andrew-s

    Frungy: This is not a blanket ban on all U.S. beef, it's a ban on a single plant that failed to meet the documentation standards.

    You're quite correct Frungy, apologies I forgot to add that in my original comment. But I stand by my point, authorities are surprisingly stringent on food safety only when it's convenient for them.

  • 1

    Korlacan Khanthavilay

    It's beef. I'd rather eat pork and chicken. If you want regular US beef, make friends with someone in the US military there. They'll have access to the commissaries on-base. Where they can get all the non-Japanese regulation American beef they want.

  • -2

    Ranger_Miffy2

    Best to avoid beef in general.

  • 1

    Elbuda Mexicano

    I've only had Aussie beef here in Japan and I don't like the smell, so I hope the American beef folk get their act together so we can enjoy American beef in Japan.

  • 2

    alliswellinjapan

    Beyond me why Japan is being criticized by some for acting in accordance with preset rules. The word that comes to mind is "gyakugire"...

  • 1

    globalwatcher

    If this is not relating to politics, I go for that as consumers as a whole will be the winner at the end.. .

    September 14, 2011 - Jensen Farms, of Holly, CO voluntarily recalled their shipments of Rocky Ford whole cantaloupe because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria. It killed over 30 people nationwidem now the company does not exist. Finished. .

    USDA, FDA are currently under staffed for safety inspection. This is where Obama needs to focus for consumer protection.

    Japan, if this is not a political game, please keep doing this for us too here in US. Japanese Auto Industry selling quality cars changed the whole culture of US Auto industry.We no longer have to buy cars every 5 years. Thanks to Japan. The same quality issue has to be addressed to US agriculture industry.

  • -3

    overchan

    THIS IS NOT NEWS. Why JT posted it here is beyond my understanding

  • 2

    wipeout

    The quality of imported beef to Japan is absolutely ridiculous. In Australia and the US they would probably use the same beef in the production of dog food only. I'd love to be able to some good Aussie or American beef sometime here.

    It's unlikely that Australia is complaining. They don't subsidize beef, and for years they haven't had to compete directly in the Japanese market with a subsidized US product. This is now a huge market for Australian beef, and somehow their product meets the standards that the Americans seem unable or unwilling to comply with.

  • 1

    wipeout

    Seiyu/Walmart imports most American beef and Pork. Too bad the Japanese do not know how to cut it. Thicker cuts though than any other store.

    Some places have no problem cutting it for you to whatever thickness you want. If a supermarket cuts the meat on-site and packs their own trays, you can just ask them. If they won't do it, try elsewhere...

  • -1

    Fadamor

    Regardless, when(if) Japan joins the TPP, its ability to halt US beef imports will be severely limited if not outright lost. You can determine for yourself if that will be a good thing for the Japanese people.

    The TPP wouldn't eliminate a country's ability to quarantine/embargo products over safety or non-native species issues. All it would really do is lift monetary tariffs.

    This is now a huge market for Australian beef, and somehow their product meets the standards that the Americans seem unable or unwilling to comply with.

    Actually, Australia would have quite a problem with the standards that Japan currently requires the U.S. to meet. America would LOVE to only have to meet the standards that Australian beef is required to meet. I'm not saying this is unfair because the U.S. DID have that BSE outbreak a few years back (even though everyone involved says it looks like the infected cow actually came from a Canadian farm originally). Japan is just trying to protect its own people and herds. So yeah, Australia has no problems meeting the more relaxed standards they face, while America is having more trouble meeting their stricter standards.

  • 3

    wipeout

    So yeah, Australia has no problems meeting the more relaxed standards they face, while America is having more trouble meeting their stricter standards.

    A fair point.

    But it is also true that Australia and New Zealand have always been extremely vigilant against livestock diseases like foot and mouth, and they're not trying to push food safety down to the absolute lowest level they can get away with.

    For disease prevention, Aus and NZ have a natural advantage with no land borders, so they can set the standards they want, and they're very aware of the importance of the agricultural sector to their economies.

    The laxer laws Japan applies to them don't just come out of the blue; those two countries have a very clean record.

  • 0

    saidani

    >The TPP wouldn't eliminate a country's ability to quarantine/embargo products over safety or non-native species issues. All it would really do is lift monetary tariffs.

    Actually, from leaked documents (the negotiations are secret), the investor/state dispute provision would give beef producers the ability to sue the government for profits lost by such a ban. But the suit would not be4 heard in Japanese courts. The dispute would be heard by judges who are part of the regional bureaucracy set up by the TPP.

    This gives companies leverage over sovereign governments. While the Japanese government would not be prohibited from making such a ban, the threat of lawsuits might have the same effect. And, only 2 of the more than 2 dozen provisions address monetary tariffs and non-tariff trade restrictions.

  • 6

    Saketown

    I have to side with the Japanese on this one. U.S. Beef is not very safe to eat without the proper documention from the FDA. These Beef & Cattle Companies based in the Mid-West got some pretty tough lobbyists working for them in Washington that essentially get the regulations relaxed if not all eliminated in order to sell their Beef as fast as possible without the new screening measures put in place as desired by the Obama Administration. I just hope that the FDA will not allow these lobbyist for the Beef & Cattle industry twist the regulations to the point that we all end up with Mad Cow some day...Scary Man.

  • 1

    Fadamor

    Japan apparently requires American beef to be younger than the time when the case of BSE was discovered. This means that as time goes on, more and more American beef will be allowed to be imported into Japan - eventually resulting in no required documentation because the time since the infection has exceeded the normal lifespan of cattle (typically 15 - 25 years). For now, however, the documentation IS required and the packing plant is at fault for not getting the information. This is a monetary hit on the packing plant due to lost sales. I can probably bet that this plant never makes the same mistake again.

  • 3

    cleo

    It take about 3 years to mature most beef cattle because they are normally much slower growing.. The beef of cattle over 24 to 36 months is much more flavoursome because it has had time to accumulate the nuances of flavours from the feed given to the animal.

    It was the US that refused to carry out routine testing for BSE on all cattle slaughtered, which is why the age limit was put in place. If the US wanted to export quality meat from older animals, why didn't it agree to do the testing that was required of it? It wasn't as if they were being asked to do anything the Japanese beef producers weren't already doing.

  • -1

    waltery

    I'm sorry you can't see my posts because the are being removed. I suspect the moderator is American.

  • 0

    Antonios_M

    Deja vu anyone? Come on guys, how difficult is it to prepare those documents and avoid another ban??? I just hope that price of beef won't skyrocket following the ban (like it is not already expensive enough...)

  • 2

    Paul Arenson

    People ignore the fact that mad cow is a result of a profits first system that put profits above safety, feeding cow to cow. Even now, according to food safety activists, there is reluctance to test all beef in the us, even though many cattle rasiers themselves have demanded it.

    You can claim hypocrisy on the part of a state that does not systematically check its foodstuffs for radioactivity, and of course there is politics involved in keeping out US beef. But to focus on that hypocrisy, or protectionism when the real criminality is pushing products that have been created under dubious conditions, putting profit over safety, point svto a fundamental problem called capitalism. That memo to Canadian workers is evidence of that-go to whatever exteremes to avoid fully confronting the problem-don't sell it to this market, but that market is fair game,

    Mad cow, cesium in konbu, hoof and mouth disease, growth hormones in beef and milk, antibiotics or--conversely--salmonella in chicken and eggs--all are because of the factory farm approach to production. This article,mike most in the mainstream press, focuses only on a symptom of the disease. It is what also afflicts our clothing supply when Bangladeshi workers' lives are considered expendable in orderbt to produce an expensive T-shirt.

    Those who would prefer to see this in terms of good guy,,bad guy, hypocrite vs honest, caring American Chamber of Congress looking out for us so that we can have free choice in terms of what we buy, miss, I am afraid, the bigger picture. That this very nasty disease called mad cow did not have to be if it weren't for their cynical behavior in promoting markets at all costs, and consumer, farm worker (think of pesticide-related illnesses of migrant fam workers in the U.S) be damned.

    This article,only touches the surface and it is up to you and I to connect the dots. We arevallmpotentiaql victims, not the poor meat exporter, not a non existent entity called the US--I am of the US, but I am not hurt by the ban. It is time for nationalism of all kinds to stop and see the real enemy of public safety is capitalism itself. Same for mad cow, same for radiation.

  • 1

    ka_chan

    It's not capitalism but Laissez-faire capitalism. That was the basis of the last US election. The side that lost wanted Laissez-faire capitalism. The term "less government" and "reduced government" means less oversight. As it is, there is only one person testing toys for safety. The FDA has no jurisdiction on vitamins even though they interfere with drugs. But, about 1/2 the US population don't care if products are save, they just care that it's cheap. The who financial crisis is because of that too; maximize returns. Full steam ahead and who cares about the iceberg dead ahead.

  • 0

    ka_chan

    You can not test for BSE in young cows. That why you hardly see veal today.

  • 2

    AustPaul

    Aww...Japangal...that's a bit rough! Whats your beef?

    We don't mix too much sand in it, besides its good roughage, not as marbled as J beef though so healthier for you!

  • 0

    Jaymann

    as I read this I have just finished hot-smoking on my Weber about 2 kg of prime NZ rib-eye; grass-fed, hormone free, ... probably the finest cut of beef in the world. You can get it from the meatguy online there in japan (frozen of course :( but still better than 95% of the beef I see in Japanese supers.

  • 2

    Open Minded

    Just a storm in a cup of tea. One container did not have the proper customs documents and was rejected. And coming from such a big company like Cargill, it is just a non acceptable negligence.

    Out of scope: my own taste goes more for the US/Aussie/NZ beef vs. Japanese one, but that's another story.

  • 1

    bajhista65

    Give more job to Japanese beef producers. Import beef when only needed. Don't join the TPP. Those who invented are the only one that will profit and your exports will be controlled and limited.

  • -1

    Itaru

    How many CJD by BSE we had recorded? Virtually zero. I believe that regulations are purely for beef interests and not about safety of consumer. I do not support those regulations basically. But bit strict regulations are not all bad for US cattle breeders. Keeping reputation with stable growth might be best for consumer and supplier.

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