Tokyo admits ignoring Europe's mad-cow warning
Union report warning of a mad cow disease outbreak in Japan, the
Japanese Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries minister admitted.
The Japanese government made a huge blunder in ignoring a European Union report warning of a mad cow disease outbreak in Japan, the Japanese Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries minister admitted on September 20. "We should have accepted the EU's assessment. We can't avoid blame for the mistake," Agriculture Minister Tsutomu Takebe said during a government committee to discuss the recent outbreak of the disease, which is also called bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Takebe said he had ordered any cattle suspected of being infected with mad cow to be put to sleep immediately and incinerated, adding that his ministry's BSE checking system had been "inadequate." In June, the EU, which experienced a massive BSE outbreak among its member nations, compiled a BSE risk assessment report on countries that imported meat and bone feed from the EU Infected feed is thought to be the primary carrier. The report concluded that Japan faced a relatively high risk of a BSE outbreak and the EU asked Tokyo to supply more information so it could carry out a more detailed study. However, the Japanese Agriculture Ministry spurned the request, saying the way the EU.had assessed the possibility of a BSE outbreak in Japan was "highly questionable." The ministry insisted that it was confident about the safety of beef in Japan and forced the E.U. to shelve the publication of its report on Japan. On September 10, the ministry admitted that a cow apparently suffering from mad cow disease had been found in Chiba Prefecture in August, but said it had been put down and incinerated. Four days later, it was learned that the carcass had been made into meat and bone meal (MBM).