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Ottawa has disqualified a Calgary beef-processing facility from exporting to Japan due to a technicality that was found by Japanese inspectors, government officials said Friday.

XL Foods Inc. had no problems in terms of compliance with conditions for beef exports to Japan. But the Canadian government had qualified it for such exports March 9 before an on-site inspection, which must come before the qualification, the officials at the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said.

Ottawa canceled the qualification Wednesday before the facility could export beef to Japan, they said.

Canada now has eight beef-processing facilities qualified to export to Japan, they said.

Japan resumed beef imports from Canada and the United States in December on some conditions, including that the exported beef must come from animals aged 20 months or younger and that backbones and other risk materials are removed to ease concerns over mad cow disease.

But Tokyo resuspended beef imports from the U.S. when a backbone was found in a U.S. veal shipment in January.

Johanns impatient

WASHINGTON (Kyodo) U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns criticized Japan on Thursday for its complete import ban on American beef, saying the United States would not close its automobile market to Japanese carmakers because of defects.

Speaking to reporters after an address at a National Agriculture Day luncheon, Johanns said: “We would not close our borders because somebody says we need to recall cars because of a defect of one nature or other. Some of these recalls are for defects that are dangerous . . . to life.”

He made the comments when asked whether the U.S. has a systemic problem in its inspection system, given the two recent cases of beef shipments containing backbone — banned under agreed export requirements due to the risk of mad cow disease — to Japan and Hong Kong.

The discovery of a backbone in a shipment of U.S. veal led Japan to reimpose its blanket import ban on Jan. 20.