Japan plans to introduce quarantine dogs at international airports to help detect undeclared meat products, which could be infected with mad cow disease or other ailments, government sources said Friday.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry will train quarantine dogs and their handlers for deployment at Narita and other airports in or after fiscal 2005, they said.

Australia and South Korea are among countries that use quarantine dogs to detect meat products and fruit at airports, the sources said.

Passengers bringing meat products into Japan are required to report to airport animal quarantine stations.

Quarantine officials then check whether the products have export quarantine certificates. Products without such certificates and those deemed liable to cause infectious diseases can be ordered to be sent back to the countries of origin or handed over for incineration.

When mad cow disease emerged in the United States last year, many passengers arriving from U.S. gateways with beef jerky, a popular souvenir item, were ordered to hand it over for disposal.

But some passengers are unaware of the quarantine requirements and could bring meat products into Japan that could be infected with diseases, a ministry official said.

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