American cattle are now one step closer to no longer having an age restriction for beef products imported by Japan after several years of regulation. Japan’s Food Safety Commission recently met to discuss the future of restrictions on American beef over concerns regarding bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease. Japanese news bureau Kyodo News reported that a research panel with the commission made assurances that safety would be maintained if the import restrictions were removed.
Since 2013 Japan has prohibited the import of U.S. beef from cattle older than 30 months. Even under the current restrictions, Japan has been the biggest export market for American beef for several years. Japan imported more than $1 and a half billion dollars’ worth of American beef in 2017 and has already imported $1.3 billion from U.S. beef suppliers as of September of this year. Japanese officials indicated that before any official decision is made the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry would be meeting with U.S. officials regarding the details of potentially removing the current restrictions.