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Faced with a recent E. coli outbreak allegedly caused by tainted beef, top executives of the U.S. Meat Export Federation and red meat industry reaffirmed their commitment to the Japanese market Sept. 9, expressing optimism about American beef sales this year.

“The U.S. red meat industry provides the safest and most stringently scrutinized product in the world,” said Philip Seng, president of the federation. Although U.S. meat sales from January to July in Japan decreased 20 percent from the same period last year, sales will increase and eventually recover, he said.

Robert Peterson, chief executive of IBP Inc., the world’s largest red meat company, said he is trying every means to solve the meat safety problem. He also stressed that beef should be cooked to 68 to 70 degrees. Japan is the largest export market for U.S. meat products. Beef imports to Japan outpaced those from Australia for the first time last year.

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