USDA mulls private sector BSE testing as answer to Japan trade demands

March 26, 2004, The US Department of Agriculture is considering a compromise to meet Japan’s continuing demand that it test all cattle for BSE. USDA officials have been in talks that would allow a private enterprise to test all beef destined for the Japanese market.

The move is being considered as part of a plan to reopen the borders for American cows in the Japanese marketplace, according to a spokesman for Creekstone Farms Premium. Creekstone officials argue that such an agreement would ease the path for the Japanese authorities to start permitting US imports of beef again.

Kevin Prenz, vice president for operations at Creekstone’s Kansas plant, is reported by Kyodo News as saying that his company had not yet received a formal answer from the department, but that talks with USDA officials in Washington had left him “cautiously optimistic” that approval would be granted.

Following the discovery late last year of BSE in a cow in Washington state, Japan is stipulating that the US test all slaughtered cattle for BSE before it resumes imports of beef from the US.

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