Japan's ministry of agriculture has said that US measures to prevent BSE-infected meat from entering the food chain are not sufficient for Japan to lift its ban on imports of US beef.

"What the United States has presented as (safety) measures are not deemed sufficient," Mamoru Ishihara, the vice minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, was quoted by Agence France-Presse as saying. 

The agriculture ministry published a report based on the findings of a team of Japanese officials who had visited the US earlier this month to investigate BSE measures. The report said there was no guarantee that BSE would not occur in the US again, reported AFP.

The US is anxious for a resumption of beef trade with Japan, which is the largest export market for US beef. Japan, however, remains cautious on the issue, having struggled to re-establish consumer confidence in beef in Japan following the country's own BSE crisis.

Since October 2001, shortly after the first Japanese BSE case was discovered, Japan has screened every slaughtered cow for the disease.