In December 2003, Japan banned U.S. beef and beef products after the confirmed detection of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or BSE. Two years later in 2005, Japan gave back partial access for U.S. beef muscle and offal, the entrails and internal organs of an animal used for food, from cattle 20 months and younger. In 2013, Japan extended trade to less than 30 months of age. Later in April 2017, Japan remove its age-based test for BSE in their own cattle. This led the way for like policies on age-based restrictions to be lifted from BSE-risk trading partners, which include the United States, Canada and Ireland to just name a few.

Japan’s Food and Safety Commision decided Jan. 15, to eliminate the age restriction for beef from the United States, Canada and Ireland, as the beef from those countries were concluded to have no risk to human health. The USDA estimates this increased access to export to Japan will add $200 million annually. This is also an important step towards making trade with Japan more common, as well helps them align its imports with international standards for BSE.

“This is great news for American Ranchers and exporters who now have full access to the Japanese market for their high-quality, safe, wholesome, and delicious U.S. beef,” agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue stated. “We are hopeful that Japan’s decision will help lead other markets around the world toward science-based policies.”

Schiereck is the El Dorado Springs FFA historian.

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