Japan intends to ask the United States for detailed information on the large number of violations committed by U.S. meatpackers to circumvent rules designed to prevent the spread of mad cow disease, government officials said Tuesday.
The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry and the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry need to know the causes and other details of the violations, they said.
According to reports Monday by several media organizations in the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said that meat plants committed 1,036 violations of rules for removing specified risk materials, such as spinal cords and brains, from cows before processing for human consumption.
The rules were put in place after the discovery in December 2003 of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease. They apply to cattle aged 30 months and above because infection is believed to rise with age.
Japan’s Food Safety Commission, a panel of experts, is finalizing terms for removing the ban against U.S. beef imports.
The reported violations are expected to affect the panel’s deliberations.
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