November 15, 2018 / 12:23 AM / a month ago

Japan considers scrapping age limit on U.S. beef imports: reports

FILE PHOTO: Cuts of USDA prime dry-aged beef are seen in the dry-aging room in the lobby of Gallaghers steakhouse in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S., July 27, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan is considering scrapping import restrictions on U.S. beef purchases that were put in place after the first case of mad cow disease in the United States in 2003, local media reported on Thursday.

Both the Nikkei business daily and Mainichi newspaper said officials are discussing removing the curbs that currently only allow beef from cattle that are 30 months-old or younger.

A Japanese government committee will discuss the issue on Thursday and recommend in a report that doing away with the age limit would not harm human health, Mainichi said, without citing sources.

The committee’s report will likely be submitted to the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare following a public comment period, Nikkei said, adding the restrictions may be scrapped several months after that.

About 90 percent of U.S. beef are from cattle that are 30 months-old or younger, Mainichi reported.

Japan banned U.S. beef in 2003 after the discovery of the first case of mad cow disease in the United States, but resumed the beef trade in 2005 after imposing the 20-month age limit. The age limit was subsequently relaxed to 30 months in 2013.

Reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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