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Japanese officials announced yesterday that they have ceased accepting beef imports from a Swift and Company plant in Greeley, Colorado, saying that one shipment from that facility lacked the proper documentation. The Japanese government will send an inspection team to Greeley once it has received the results of a US government investigation into whether the company is following established safety protocols.

It was just last July that the Japanese government ended the ban on US beef imports – first instituted because of concerns about the spread of mad cow disease - to Japan after a long and convoluted process. Japan’s borders were first closed to US beef when a case of mad cow was found in the US in December 2003, and then reopened late last year, only to be closed again early this year when beef containing spinal matter – specifically banned by the agreement reopening the border – was found in a Japan-bound shipment.

Testing levels have been a major sticking point between the two countries. Japan's national policy is for every cow to be tested, but in the US, the government tests about one percent of the cattle population and plans to reduce this level of testing.
KC's View:
Sometimes we think that the folks who manage US mad cow policy and run these meatpacking plants are like the guys from “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight.”