WASHINGTON (Kyodo) With no blanket testing for mad cow disease, the U.S. beef industry will find it difficult to regain the trust of Japanese consumers and get back its huge market share once the import ban is lifted, according to the head of an American meatpacker.
Executives from Creekstone Farms Premium Beef LLC, based in Arkansas City, Kan., were in Washington this week to get support from lawmakers so it can blanket test for mad cow disease.
The firm filed a federal lawsuit in March against the U.S. Department of Agriculture for denying its request to voluntarily test all cattle for the brain-wasting disease also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy.
Creekstone’s chief executive officer told a news conference there was growing bipartisan support for his company’s position.
Testing all cattle for mad cow disease “will be the only way for (the U.S. beef industry) to quickly regain the market share” because it will help relieve Japanese consumers’ lingering safety concerns about U.S. beef, John Stewart said.
Japan blanket tests all its domestic beef.
Stewart, who is also Creekstone’s founder, added that blanket testing “will help insulate us” from Japanese concerns and other issues that could arise if another case of mad cow disease is detected in the U.S.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to protect” the U.S. beef industry, he said.
Opposition lashes out
The leaders of four opposition parties took a firm stand Tuesday against an imminent decision by the government to lift the ban on U.S. beef imports over mad cow disease, saying such action would be politically motivated and would sacrifice food safety.
Heads and high-ranking officials of the Democratic Party of Japan, the Social Democratic Party, the Japanese Communist Party and People’s New Party rapped Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi for “kowtowing” to the U.S.
They urged the government not to decide on the resumption before Koizumi’s meeting with President George W. Bush slated for June 29 in Washington.
DPJ leader Ichiro Ozawa told about 700 participants of an urgently organized meeting to oppose the embargo’s termination, saying, “Food safety is a different issue from politics. Prime Minister Koizumi ignores people’s concerns so as to please the (U.S.) president and such an attitude is a major problem.”
JCP chief Kazuo Shii criticized the U.S. for not providing Japanese consumers with convincing evidence of safety.
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