Japan To Suspend Beef Shipments From Tyson Processing Plant

Inspectors found two boxes of rib meat with insufficient shipping documents.

TOKYO (AP) - Japan will suspend beef imports from a Nebraska processing plant after finding meat in a shipment that may violate a regulation imposed over mad cow concerns, the government said Friday.

The Ministries of Health and Agriculture said inspectors at the port of Yokohama found two boxes of rib meat in a shipment sent by U.S. agricultural giant Tyson Food Inc. from its plant in Lexington, Nebraska, that were not recorded in the accompanying shipping documents.

The shipment's importer could not confirm that the meat met a government requirement that all beef destined for Japan be from animals age 20 months or younger, the ministries said in a statement. Young animals are believed less likely to be infected with mad cow disease, the common name for bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

U.S. officials have told Japan the boxes were erroneously included in the shipment, the statement said.

It said the ministries decided to suspend shipments from the processing plant until Japan gets more information from U.S. authorities and the exporter.

No banned materials have been found in the shipment, which consisted of about nine tons of frozen beef, the statement said.

The U.S. Embassy said the Department of Agriculture was working to verify details about the shipment, and planned to report its findings to Japan as soon as the information is collected.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters Friday that the suspension was necessary to ensure food safety.

''We need to investigate further,'' Abe said.

Eating meat contaminated with mad cow disease is linked to human variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, a rare but deadly nerve disorder.