TOKYO (AP) – Japan's government has asked Washington to remove a U.S. processing plant from a list of facilities authorized to export beef to Japan, and urged America to raise efforts to ensure shipments meet safety guidelines, officials said Friday.
Agriculture Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka also told reporters that Tokyo has asked Washington to improve inspections before beef is shipped from more than 30 designated facilities in the U.S. to Japan.
Earlier this year Japan said it would suspend beef imports from a Tyson Foods Inc. plant in Nebraska, after finding a shipment containing meat that violated a regulation imposed over mad cow concerns.
Tyson has said the boxes of beef were mistakenly included in a shipment destined for export from its Tyson Fresh Meats plant in Lexington, Neb.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a report released Tuesday that the shipment was not from cattle verified as 20 months old or younger, as required under a Japan-U.S. agreement.
Imports of meat from young cattle were allowed because no cases of mad cow disease have ever been found in cows of that age.
After reviewing the report, Japan asked the U.S. to remove the facility from the list of authorized plants, according to Health Ministry official Takeshi Morita.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns has been resisting the request, Kyodo News agency reported.
Matsuoka said Japan had not yet received any reply from the U.S.