The import ban on British beef that was imposed as a measure against BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) will be lifted within this year. The Food Safety Commission under the Cabinet Office compiled an assessment report on Feb. 6 advising the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW) that the effect on human health of meat from cows meeting such conditions as being less than 30 months old is “negligible.”
MHLW officials are expected to visit processing plants in the UK to ascertain if the conditions are met before the import ban is lifted.
The first BSE-infected cow in the world was found in Britain in 1986. The disease reached a peak in 1992 when a total of 37,000 cows were infected. Japan imposed the import ban on British beef in 1996. However, thanks to tightened regulations on livestock feed, which was the main source of infection, only one to three infected cows were found each year from 2012-2015, and none were detected in 2016.
According to the MHLW, Japan’s total beef imports (in FY16) were approximately 620,000 tons. Imports from the UK in the 15-month period from January 1995 to March 1996 before the ban was imposed consisted of 248 tons of stomachs, 16 tons of tongues, and 0.9 tons of diaphragms.