U.S. officials try to head off mad cow scare in Japan, other Asian countries
A small team of U.S. Department of Agriculture officials arrived in Japan Monday to attempt to regain the country’s confidence in U.S. beef imports.
Japan placed a ban on U.S. beef shortly after the USDA announced a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, better known as “mad cow” disease, in a cow in Washington state, Dec. 23. Mad cow is a brain-wasting disease that can be spread to humans by ingesting infected beef.
According to the U.S. Meat Export Federation, Japan is the largest importer by value of U.S. beef. The country imported $842 million of prime U.S. beef last year.
Other countries in Asia similarly banned U.S. beef imports after the mad cow announcement. “Much of our large percentage of (the U.S. beef) market is in Asian countries,” said USDA’s chief veterinary officer Ron DeHaven on Dec. 26.
DeHaven said the USDA team in Japan may visit other Asian countries this week.