Japan re-imposes ban on U.S. beef

Published 20 January 2006

Japan, again, bans importation of U.S. beef owing to mad cow fears

The U.S. government is investigating a shipment of American beef to Japan which may have contained material considered at risk for mad cow disease (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease), a discovery that prompted Japan to announce another halt to beef imports. The latest announcement came as a major setback for the U.S. meat industry and Bush administration officials, happening just as U.S. officials were talking optimistically of selling more beef in Asia despite some lingering import restrictions. Singapore, for example, has began to allow U.S. beef imports, but only boneless beef shipments, and still will prohibit ribs and other bone-in products. Likewise, South Korea and Hong Kong are accepting only boneless cuts of beef from animals 30 months and younger. The restrictions remain because officials fear that marrow and other bone tissues might be dangerous, although international guidelines say those tissues can be traded safely.

Singapore was worth nearly $5.9 million to American producers in 2003, the year before the ban. It represents a smaller market than Japan, worth $1.4 billion in 2003. The U.S. sold beef to 95 other countries before the first U.S. case of mad cow disease in December 2003; today, 70 countries are now open to U.S. beef. A second U.S. case was confirmed in June 2005.

-read more in this report; read more about Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease at NIH Web site