|Issue # 7, Demands with regards to the problem of American beef imports
Food Safety Citizens' Watch was established in April 2003 as a network
of experts to monitor developments and make proposals to the government
regarding food safety issues from the citizen's point of view.
|(This text was sent to the Chairman of the Food Safety Commission on January 31, 2006)
January 31, 2006
To Mr. Terada Masaaki, Chairman, Food Safety Commission
|Demands with regards to the problem
of American beef imports
|On December 12, 2005, the Japanese government re-opened the Japanese market to import of beef from the United States and Canada. However, on January 20, 2006, vertebral columns designated as SRM (Specified Risk Material) were discovered in imported beef produced in the U.S. In response, we consumers and farmers have reacted with great anger and we protest in order to highlight what the Food Safety Commission should do to deal with the current situation.
The government's decision was based on the report made by the Food Safety
Commission. But this report is based on a number of hypothetical assumptions.
It cannot be said that it is scientifically proving that U.S. and Canadian
beef is safe. In our opinion, the BSE countermeasures in those two countries
are completely insufficient. We have pointed out again and again that even
if the export program is adhered to, with inspections, traceability, removal
of SRM, and strict feed controls to exclude meat and bone meal, there is
indeed a danger to us Japanese consumers and producers.
In addition there are still concerns about cattle cannibalism, as the U.S. continues to carelessly disregard BSE countermeasures and uses meat bone meal, beef tallow and blood meal as milk replacer and feed for domestic animals. The U.S. does not ban vertebral columns in their domestic beef, and this is also a large problem.
Thus, the responsibility rests heavily on Japan's Food Safety Commission,
who made the report, which led to the resumption of imports to the Japanese
market. Since the conditions that your report listed as prerequisites for
the beef export program were ignored, we urge you to once again re-evaluate
the safety of beef produced in the U.S. and Canada.
1. Re-evaluate the safety of beef produced in the U.S. and Canada. We want the same BSE measures as in Japan to be the standard, namely blanket testing of all cattle, traceability, removal of SRM, and strict feed controls to exclude meat and bone meal. In addition you should appraise and rank the BSE risk of the different countries that produce beef for possible export to Japan.
2. The Food Safety Commission should use its authorithy as a risk assessment organization, and make the appropriate correspondence with advice and opinions to the risk management organizations, such as the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, who should take the appropriate measures.
3. We request complete disclosure of information regarding the BSE problem, and corrections in case of mistaken information conveyed by the media.
Food Safety Citizens' Watch (Kamiyama Michiko, Representative)
Consumers Union of Japan (Tomiyama Yoko, Chairperson)
Japan Farmers Organizations Network (Tanimoto Takashi, Representative)
Forum for Peace, Human Rights, and Environment (Ebashi Takashi, Representative)
Food Action 21 (Tokoro Hideo, Representative)
Participants at the BSE Symposium, on January 23, 2006, in Tokyo, Japan