Japan to authorize more beef processing facilities to boost beef exports to U.S. and Europe

TOKYO, June 26 – As part of its policy to boost exports of farm produce, the government is authorizing four facilities each this year that can export beef to the United States and Europe respectively.

The government also hopes to sign an animal health quarantine agreement with China by the end of this year to lift a ban on China’s imports of Japanese beef.

It has been difficult for beef processing facilities to be authorized to export to the U.S. and Europe because of the need to meet the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) requirements. In the past, it sometimes took more than two years for a newly completed facility to be granted HACCP authorization.

The government granted authorization to three facilities this year as of June to export beef to the U.S. A consultative body jointly made by the farm ministry, health ministry and local governments is supporting another facility which is preparing to apply for authorization, so it can smoothly clear hygiene and other requirements. The government aims to authorize the facility within three months after the application is made if no problems are found by the health ministry when it checks the documents and the facility itself.

As for facilities to export beef to Europe, the government granted authorization to two as of June, with two more preparing to apply with the help of a consultative body. The government hopes to notify the European Union within three months after the applications are made if the facilities pass the health ministry screenings.

If all the facilities are authorized, the government estimates beef exports will increase by a total of 3.6 billion yen in terms of value.

Meanwhile, China has been banning imports of Japanese beef following the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or made cow disease, in Japan in 2011. In April, the governments of Japan and China effectively agreed on an animal health quarantine agreement, taking a step forward to lift the ban.

The agriculture ministry is aiming to sign the agreement by the end of this year and hold further negotiations with China on such issues as food hygiene standards.

A new organization will be established within the agriculture ministry to coordinate with other ministries so that necessary procedures will be performed swiftly and negotiations with other countries will proceed smoothly.

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