A delegation from the U.S. Meat Export Federation held a symposium in Tokyo on Mar. 10 to reaffirm its commitment to the Japanese market, promote a meat-safety system and celebrate 20 years in the Japanese market.

The “USMEF 20th Anniversary Food Safety Symposium” focused on the adoption of the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point, a system jointly developed by NASA and an American food firm in the late 1960s to prevent food from spoiling in space. This HACCP system, as one representative dubbed it, is a “farm to table” approach connecting all stages of the production chain so that if bacteria does get into the process it is easy to determine the breakdown. This system became a U.S. law last July after being used on a partial basis for more than 20 years. “We are working with the Japanese to ensure that their consumers get the safest meat available,” said Philip Seng, president of the federation.

He stressed that if the proper precautions are not taken domestically, American producers can only guarantee their meat is safe until it reaches Japan. “Food safety has become a very prominent issue in Japan,” said Seng, pointing to last summer’s E. coli epidemic.

Japan is the largest export market for U.S. meat products, with beef coming to around $2 billion and pork half a billion dollars annually.

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