The U.S. Department of Agriculture has secured approval from Japan to allow the import of American products from all U.S. cattle, regardless of age, into that country.
Age restrictions on cattle had been in place in Japan for U.S. beef products since late 2005, in the aftermath of a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or “mad cow” disease, that was discovered in a U.S. cow in 2003.
“We are hopeful that Japan’s decision will help lead other markets around the world toward science-based policies,” said Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue in a statement.
The USDA estimates that this expanded access could increase U.S. beef and beef product exports to Japan by as much as $200 million a year.
In April 2017, Japan eliminated its age-based BSE testing on domestic Japanese cattle, allowing similar age-based restrictions to be lifted on negligible BSE-risk trading partners, including the United States.
“On January 15, 2019, Japan’s Food Safety Commission (FSC) concluded eliminating the age restriction for beef from the United States, Canada and Ireland posed a negligible risk to human health,” USDA said.