US BSE test cuts

The US Department of Agriculture announced last week, on the day Japan agreed resumption of US beef exports, that it is cutting testing for mad cow disease by 90%.

Industry watchers are waiting to see the impact of the move on the newly resumed Japanese trade, but the decision has been applauded by the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and condemned by consumer groups.

Imports of beef from the US were banned by Japan in 2003 over fears of BSE. At that time the Japanese beef markets was worth $1.4bn to the US. It then went onto lift its block last December, but then re-introduced it a month later.

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