TOKYOJapan said Friday that it has lifted import bans on beef from two U.S. meat packing plants after the companies’ plans to improve safety were reviewed.

Japanese authorities had earlier this year stopped imports from the Souderton, Penn., plant run by the Smithfield Beef Group and National Beef California LP after unauthorized shipments that contained parts believed to pose a risk of mad cow disease. Shipments from the Smithfield plant were suspended in January after meat from a 21-month old cow was found. Japan halted imports from the National Beef plant in April, when its shipment contained spinal cord.

Japan’s Agriculture Ministry said it resumed imports from the plants, effective immediately.

The ministry reportedly said its on-site inspection in August at 10 authorized U.S. meat packing factories, including the two that had been suspended, confirmed that they had taken measures to prevent banned parts from slipping into boxes for shipment to Japan.

U.S. companies exporting beef to Japan must remove spinal columns, brain tissue and other materials from shipments and use beef from cattle 20 months or younger under a bilateral trade agreement between the two countries.


Source: Associated Press