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GREELEY, Colo. (Kyodo) The senior vice ministers of agriculture and health said Monday that U.S. meatpackers are making progress on their efforts to ensure that risk materials for transmitting mad cow disease will not find their way into beef shipments to Japan.

The two vice ministers visited the Greeley, Colo., plant of major meatpacker Swift & Co. Afterward, Mitsuhiro Miyakoshi of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said he could see that U.S. meat processors are sufficiently motivated to abide by the conditions for resuming beef exports to Japan.

Miyakoshi and Masao Akamatsu of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry checked the Swift plant as part of inspections of 35 meat-processing facilities across the United States that began in late June.

Japan’s policy calls for allowing U.S. facilities certified as safe to resume exports, possibly later this month.

It was agreed June 21 that Japan will lift the ban on U.S. beef after inspecting meatpacking plants to confirm safeguard measures against bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease.

Japan ended its original import ban on Dec. 12, which was imposed after the discovery of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease.

It reinstated the ban Jan. 20 after backbone parts, whose export is prohibited, were discovered in a veal shipment at Narita airport.

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