A U.S. delegation including representatives from the Pork Checkoff and the U.S. Meat Export Federation visited the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare recently to discuss new standards for veterinary drugs and other chemicals in food products entering the Japanese market.
Pork industry representatives qualified the meetings between the Japanese food safety agency and the U.S. delegation as "positive and cooperative." The U.S. delegation's visit, on May 16-17, took place as Japanese authorities were preparing to enforce new maximum residue limit standards on May 29.
Paul Sundberg, vice president of science and technology for the Pork Checkoff accompanied the U.S. delegation. Sundberg says, "Our discovery meetings were very positive. Our goal was to find out more about the process and Japanese authorities graciously answered most of our questions."
Japan imports food products from over 200 countries, each one of those with different production and residue standards. "The Japanese food safety agency is treating all sources of food products, domestic or international, equally. They want to be able to ensure safe products for the Japanese market," Sundberg says.
U.S. pork producers are required to adhere to animal health product withdrawal standards determined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Following product label guidelines, producers will satisfy most of the new Japanese guidelines as well. Sundberg says. " They see the United States as one of the leaders in food safety control processes and enforcement.
"That says, it is in the pork industry's best interest to comply with the standards and some animal health products we use in the United States today will require extended withdrawal periods," Sundberg added. "Japan is a very important market for U.S. pork." The Japanese market represents 45% of all United States pork exports, at a value of $1.070 billion.
Pork producers are advised to take the following steps to find out if the new regulations require changes to their animal health product use:
Contact their packer and find out if their hogs are being channeled to the Japanese export market and therefore affected by these new regulations.
Visit the Pork Checkoff's Web site to determine if medications being used in their production operation have withdrawal periods that are impacted by the new standards. This information can be found at: www.pork.org/producers/JapanMRL.aspx. This Web page will be updated as information from animal health companies is received.
Contact their herd veterinarian to discuss changes to their herd health program if their use of animal health products is impacted.
Pork producers can find information on pork.org or through the Pork Checkoff Producer Service Center at (800) 456-PORK (7675).