Sun, Jan 22, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Health department reconsidering ban on US beef imports


The government said yesterday that it was reconsidering its plan to resume US beef imports after Japan reimposed its ban on US beef over mad cow fears.

"The Department of Health will make a thorough investigation into the incident in Japan and let experts assess the safety of US beef," said Hsiao Tung-ming (蕭東銘) deputy head of Food Safety Department.

"We will probe where the shipment of US beef came from and the slaughter procedure," Hsiao said.

Japan reimposed its ban on US beef on Friday after finding a spinal cord in a 389kg shipment of US beef from the New York-based Atlantic Veal & Lamb Inc.

The discovery has dealt another blow to Washington's effort to make foreign countries remove the ban on US beef. Some 40 countries banned US beef in 2003.

Under US pressure, Japan partially lifted the ban on Dec. 12 last year, followed by Hong Kong's dropping the ban on Dec. 30. South Korea recently announced that it would partially lift the ban in late March. Singapore said last Tuesday that it would lift the ban within a month.

That same day, the Department of Health said it was ready to lift the ban on US beef because its Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) Experts Consultative Committee had concluded that US beef was safe for import. BSE is commonly called mad cow disease.

The government banned US beef imports in December 2003 following reports of the first US BSE case, but lifted the ban on April 16 last year. It banned US beef imports again on June 25 after a second case of mad cow disease was confirmed in the US.

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