TAIPEI - Taiwan has decided in principle to lift a ban since 2001 on beef imported from Japan, action taken following the discovery there of cattle with mad cow disease, the Food and Drug Administration said in a statement posted Monday on its website.
The statement also indicated Taiwan will also lift bans imposed for the same reason on beef imports from Sweden and the Netherlands.
An FDA official told Kyodo News on condition of anonymity that if all goes smoothly, Taiwan will resume imports of Japanese beef no later than Oct. 15.
Nearly 95 percent of Taiwan’s beef is imported. Last year the United States was Taiwan’s No. 1 beef supplier by weight and value, followed by Australia and New Zealand.
Before the ban was imposed, Japan exported a minuscule amount of beef and beef products to Taiwan. In 2000, Japan shipped only 4 tons, only 0.01 percent of the total amount imported by Taiwan that year.
Taiwan also banned beef imports from the United States and other countries in 2003. Over time, Taiwan lifted the bans on Paraguay, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and the United States.
Japan applied to the FDA in 2007 for the ban to be lifted, as the Netherlands did in 2006 and Sweden in 2012.
According to the details published on the FDA website, when shipments resume, Japanese beef and beef products exported to Taiwan must come from cattle less than 30 months old. Younger cattle are considered to pose less risk of mad cow disease.
Taiwan also agreed to resume Japanese beef imports on the condition that the cattle is slaughtered or processed at government certified facilities, and comes from cows that can be traced to the farms where they were born and raised for more than 100 days.
Also, specific risk materials, parts of the cow that are at particular risk of infection, must be removed from cows slaughtered for beef and beef products shipped to Taiwan. Mechanically recovered meat, mechanically separated meat and advanced meat recovery product from the skull and vertebral also will not be accepted.
All imports of Japanese beef and beef products must also pass related regulated radiation inspection and carry government documents with necessary information and proving that they pass necessary inspections, the FDA website said.