English Newsletter

Food Safety Citizens' Watch
English Newsletter

Issue # 11, Opposition Statement Regarding US Beef April 2007

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.

April 19, 2007

(This text was sent to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare Hakuo Yanagisawa, and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Toshikatsu Matsuoka)

Opposition Statement to Easing Import Conditions
and Complete Removal of Japanese Import Restrictions for US Beef

At the summit meeting between leaders of Japan and the US at the end of April, it is expected that US President Bush will demand that Japan should completely remove its current import restrictions on American beef, or for example ask that the age limit of cattle should be changed from 20 months or less to 30 months or less.

We were strongly opposed to the reopening of imports of US beef due to the careless US countermeasures for BSE. The summit meeting agenda, to completely remove all import restrictions on US beef, is unacceptable. We insist that the Japanese government should reject the US demands, based on the reasons listed below, and instead argue that the US should adopt the strict Japanese BSE countermeasures.


Japan reopened its market to allow the import of US beef in July 2006. A number of cases where the US side has violated the import conditions have occurred, including the following: In November 2006, there was the discovery of a shipment of beef mixed with thymus glands. In February 2007, the required hygiene and age limit certificates were missing. In March 2007, US-made sausages and salami included prohibited ingredients such as beef. In April 2007, the required hygiene certificates were missing, and a shipment mixed with cattle tongue had no age limit certificates.

Those violations occur because the US Department of Agriculture has been unable to check if the beef exported to Japan follows the export agreement between Japan and the United States. Since the agreement is not observed, we find the import of US beef unacceptable.

It is a fact that BSE countermeasures in the US continue to be careless and faulty. There is no certain way to verify the age of cattle, and also there is no traceability system.

BSE inspection of slaughter and meat production is very limited in the US. Its purpose is only surveillance, and only few samples are taken. There is no blanket screening of all cattle in the US, as is the case in Japan, where every slaughtered carcass is being tested. In the US, Specified Risk Material (SRM) is only removed in the case of cattle that are 30 months or older. Also, meat and bone meal, as well as blood powder, is produced and allowed to be used as cattle feed. Cross-contamination is thus possible. This kind of careless and faulty US system of beef production makes it impossible for us to accept import of US beef.


Food Safety Citizens' Watch (Michiko Kamiyama, Representative)
Consumers Union of Japan (Yoko Tomiyama, Chairperson)