Japan Offspring Fund International Project
U.S. admits beef inspection failure
after Japan halts imports
Saturday, January 21, 2006
WASHINGTON - The United States admitted Friday its system for inspecting
beef bound for Japan is flawed as it did not detect an animal spine, which
is banned by Tokyo because of the risk of mad cow disease, in a shipment,
and said it will conduct a thorough investigation and employ stricter
The discovery of the banned risk material in a shipment of American beef
that arrived at Narita International Airport outside Tokyo on Friday led
Japan to reinstate the import ban.
"This is an unacceptable failure on our part," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said at a press conference.
Consumer groups in Japan outraged
Japanese consumer groups voiced anger and shoppers expressed concern Friday.
"What on earth did a mission dispatched to the United States late last year
check?" said Hiroko Mizuhara, chief of the Consumer Union of Japan.
"They were fooled by the United States. The problem cannot be limited to the
meat processor in question. We want the government to check all authorized
exporters thoroughly," she said.
Junichi Kowaka, who heads the Japan Offspring Fund, an entity for food and
living, said, "I had thought something like this would happen eventually,
but it has happened surprisingly fast.
"There are meat-processing facilities that have high safety standards in the
United States, too. Japan should think of ways to choose such processors on
its own rather than looking to the United States to choose them," said
Kowaka, the author of a book on risky food products.
Business journalist Hiroko Ogiwara described the latest incident as
"outrageous," saying children could end up eating risky beef products
without knowing it.
"Japan decided to resume U.S. beef imports under pressure from U.S.
producers and politicians," she said.
"It's scary," said Miwako Kunimoto, 41, while shopping for dinner at a
supermarket in Sapporo, Hokkaido, operated by Cowboy Co, which resumed
selling U.S. beef last month.
With her 6-year-old daughter in tow, Kunimoto said the news has made her
worry about the safety of meat again as it is being eaten by children.
"We cannot eat U.S. beef as long as doubt about its safety remains," she
Michiko Hamaguchi, 38, said, "As my sons have a good appetite, I want to buy
something cheap and with a generous volume." She said she would buy U.S.
beef again if it is confirmed safe.
While buying Canadian beef in a Hanamasa Co supermarket outlet in Tokyo, a
50-year-old female office worker said it was foreseeable that such a problem
would be discovered in beef imported from the United States.
"Japan accepted U.S. requests to resume U.S. beef imports too easily,"
she said. "The government should stop importing dangerous beef from the
United States as a supply shortage could be averted with beef from
Australia, for example."
(c) 2006 Kyodo News
Read the whole article here: