Barbecue chain to serve U.S. beef

The Associated Press

A restaurant chain plans to resume serving U.S. beef at dozens of its branches nationwide, company officials said Saturday.

Zenshoku, based in Osaka Prefecture, plans to offer U.S. beef at the company’s 57 Korean barbecue restaurants across Japan soon, the company said.

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported earlier that the chain plans to introduce American beef as early as Tuesday, possibly becoming the first chain to do so since the government eased an import ban last month.

Zenshoku spokeswoman Tae Okuda said no date has been set yet.

The company’s president and officials visited two food processing plants in California and Colorado earlier this month and confirmed they meet safety standards to export beef to Japan, Okuda said.

The chain plans to show a videotape of the inspection trip at its outlets to put customers at ease over whether U.S. beef is safe to consume, she said.

“Our beef comes only from processing plants which we found treat beef appropriately and are considered safe,” the company statement said.

“We think that we should be able to have a choice,” Okuda said. “Compared with imported beef from other countries, American beef is more suitable for Korean barbecue as the meat is juicy.”

Japan first banned U.S. beef in 2003 over mad cow disease concerns. That year, the bilateral beef trade was valued at $1.4 billion.