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The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry on Thursday decided to ban imports of European Union beef, processed beef foodstuffs and cow sperm starting in January to prevent mad cow disease from spreading to Japanese farms, ministry officials said.

Japan has already banned the use of animals from 28 countries as material for making medicines, cosmetics and animal feed, as well as the import of animal intestines for making sausages from some countries where animals are suspected of being infected with the disease.

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