TAIPEI – The first shipment of Japanese beef to Taiwan in 16 years passed through customs in Taipei on Saturday following the lifting of a ban earlier last month.
Some 200 kg (440 pounds) of Japanese beef from Miyazaki Prefecture was imported by the Kanpai Group for distribution to businesses that included the Regent Hotel and Breeze Center supermarkets, and its 46 barbecue restaurants and hot pot joints across the island.
Japanese beef is an increasingly popular and sought-after food around the world because of its rich marbling, which makes the meat especially juicy and tender.
Nearly 95 percent of the beef consumed in Taiwan beef is imported, with the United States its No. 1 supplier by weight and value last year, followed by Australia and New Zealand.
Before Taiwan instituted the ban in 2001 due to a Japanese outbreak of mad cow disease, Japan had been exporting only a minuscule amount of beef and beef products to Taiwan.
In 2000, for example, Japan shipped 4 tons, or just 0.01 percent of the total imported by Taiwan that year.
On Sept. 18, Taiwan announced conditions for allowing Japanese beef imports to resume. Under the new rules, Japanese beef and beef products exported to Taiwan must come from cattle less than 30 months old, as younger cattle are less likely to contract mad cow disease.
The meat also must come from cattle slaughtered or processed at state-certified facilities, and come from cattle that can be traced to the farms where they were born and raised for more than 100 days.
All imported Japanese beef and beef products must also pass radiation inspections and be accompanied by government documents certifying they have passed the necessary inspections.