U.S. beef re-enters Japan market
American beef went on sale Tuesday in Japan for the first time since the government lifted a ban imposed in January because of fears of mad cow disease, the Associated Press reported.
Costco Japan, the Japanese unit of the U.S. retail club store, imported the beef and began selling it at three of its Tokyo-area stores after it passed a rigorous inspection.
The 5.1 tons of beef from U.S. beef processor Cargill Inc. arrived Monday at Narita Airport on a cargo flight.
Japan banned beef shipments from the United States in December 2003. The government in December 2005 partially lifted the ban to allow shipments of beef from cows aged 20 months or less, only to reinstitute it in January when a shipment of veal was discovered with pieces of spine bones.
Japan imported $1.4 billion worth of beef prior to the discovery of a cow with mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, in Washington state in 2003.
Japanese agriculture and health officials lifted the ban on young cows on July 27, but major restaurants and supermarkets have said they have no immediate plans to sell it because of a lack of consumer confidence.
Japanese inspectors have approved 33 of 35 U.S. plants that process beef for export. Japanese do not feel that U.S. processors follow the same safe-handling standards as Japan.