National

Blanket tests for mad cow disease will end Sunday

Kyodo

Blanket testing for mad cow disease will end Sunday, 12 years after the program was started in October 2001 after Japan’s first case was found, the government said Friday.

Blanket testing “was significant for removing the people’s insecurity,” health minister Norihisa Tamura said. “As Japan has become one of the safest countries, the tests are no longer needed.”

The World Organization for Animal Health recognized Japan in May as having the lowest risk of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

While the central government has gradually eased BSE testing requirements, 75 local governments have continued blanket tests.

Under a plan to raise the maximum age of cattle for testing from 30 months to 48 months Monday, the health ministry has asked these local governments to end blanket tests.

Chiba on Friday became the last prefecture to decide to terminate voluntary tests. Its program will run out at the end of this month.

As the maximum age is raised to 48 months, more than 80 percent of domestic cattle for slaughtering will be free from BSE testing requirements.

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