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Retail prices of imported beef rose to four-month highs last week, the farm ministry said Monday.

The nationwide average retail price per 100 grams of imported chilled loin beef in the week through Friday increased by 4 yen from the preceding week to 368 yen, the highest level since mid-April.

The rise reflected increases in wholesale prices of imported beef, officials at the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said.

Prices of domestically produced beef dropped 4 yen to 691 yen per 100 grams for the first decline in seven weeks as the uptrend of household consumption ran its course after the end of the summer holiday season, the officials said.

Japan has banned imports of U.S. beef products since the United States announced its first case of mad cow disease Dec. 23.

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