EU extends controls on Japanese meat imports

By Keith Nuthall and MJ Deschamps

- Last updated on GMT

EU extends controls on Japanese meat imports

Related tags Japan

The European Union (EU) has extended until 31 October its tough controls on imports of meat from Japan imposed because of health concerns over last spring’s nuclear disaster at Fukushima.

Only casings and pet food can currently be imported from Japan as a whole, and special tests are required on these products when made in the 11 prefectures of the country particularly hit by radiation from the damaged power plant: Fukushima, Gunma, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Miyagi, Shizuoka, Yamanashi, Saitama, Tokyo, Kanagawa and Chiba.

They have to be tested for the presence of caesium-134 and caesium-137 before leaving Japan. That said, the EU Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health (SCoFCAH) has reduced the frequency of additional checks carried out on such consignments arriving in the EU from 10% to 5% for pet food consignments and from 20% to 10% for casings. A European Commission communiqué said this was because now the “risk of contamination is significantly lower”.

While meat products such as Kobe beef have only been imported in niche quantities to the EU from Japan, according to a Commission spokesman, meat exports from Japan to the rest of the world have been healthy and have not suffered overly post-Fukushima.

In fact, according to UN trade statistics, in 2011, Japan exported $55m-worth of meat globally – a small drop from the $58m of exports in 2010. Exports of meat from Japan to the US have been dropping in recent years however: while exports were valued at $6.2m in 2009, they fell to $2.4m in 2010.

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