U.S. should conduct BSE tests to assure the safety of beef
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The ministries of health and agriculture have requested the Cabinet Office's Food Safety Commission to see whether U.S. beef, which is currently not allowed into Japan due to BSE outbreak, is safe.

This request was made with the aim of determining that U.S. beef 20 months and younger without BSE testing is as safe as domestic beef.

However, about 70 percent of Japanese people are opposed to the government attempt to ease Japan's BSE-testing standards. Local governments also call for the mandatory BSE testing on all beef cattle to be maintained. Why does the government want to ease the BSE-testing standards for domestic cows? It says that anti-BSE measures in the country have nothing to do with the pending issue whether to resume U.S. beef imports or not, but this is hardly convincing.

Japan conducts a screening of all cows to prevent BSE-infected ones from entering the food chain and monitors all dead cows aged 24 months and older to discover the extent to which BSE infection is expanding.

The United States, in contrast, only monitors cows aged 30 months and older that are suspected of being BSE-infected. Only about one percent of all slaughtered cows, including healthy ones, are monitored. It means that with little testing, U.S. beef is on the market.

If the Japanese government wants to establish "equal" safety assessments, it should demand that the United States carry out the same testing as Japan does. - Akahata, May 26, 2005

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