Japan to relax age-based testing on cattle after BSE scare

TOKYO, June 6 — Nine years after the last outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease, Japan is likely to relax testing requirements for the disease, informed sources said.

The agriculture ministry will advise an advisory council on June 8 to consider to relax the mandatory testing requirements for cattle, from the current 48-months of age and older, to 96-months and older.

If the council approves, the change will likely be implemented in fiscal 2019.

That would reduce the number of cattle bound to undergo the testing to about one third of the current levels, according to the agriculture ministry. The ministry conducted 66,403 testing on dead cattle in 2017.

Since the first case of BSE discovery in 2001, Japan implements a blanket ban on domestic and imported meat-and-bone feed for all animals.

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the animal watchdog, eased the country’s status on BSE to a negligible risk in 2013.

In 2015, Japan raised the age-based testing threshold to 48-months of age and older, from the previous 24-months of age and older.

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