Three days of discussions and tours between U.S. and Japanese scientific officials brought no major agreements in reestablishing any aspects of beef trade.
The technical talks center around establishing a thorough review of the available information on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Held in Fort Collins, Colo., the team members of the BSE Technical Working Group had the opportunity to give an in-depth dialogue on several key issues.
- Definition of BSE and methods of testing;
- Definition of Specified Risk Materials (SRMs) and methods for removal;
- Appropriate level and focus of surveillance;
- Risk assessment; and
- Feed ban implementation, among others.
"Our tours of a slaughter facility, feed lot and feed mill were important opportunities for the Japanese members of the working group to witness the implementation of U.S. BSE safeguards, our rigorous enforcement of these safeguards and the compliance by industry," says Dr. Peter Fernandez of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
Japan's Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Yoshyuki Kamei, says the discovery of a second potential case of mad cow disease could affect Japan's ban on imports of beef from the United States. Fernandez explains that the Japanese were informed of the status of the two inconclusive BSE test results. "We have assured the Japanese that we will keep them fully informed of any further developments of our ongoing investigation of the second inconclusive test," he says.
At the end of July the final meeting will be held in Japan to finalize a technical report that will serve as the basis for the discussions between the two governments to establish the terms by which beef trade will resume.