The first shipment of US beef to Japan since the ending earlier this week of an import ban arrived today (Friday), and Japan's quarantine office declared that the beef met import requirements, reports the Reuters news agency.

The Japanese government on Monday lifted a ban on imports of beef and beef offal from US cattle aged up to 20 months, on condition that risk materials that could transmit mad cow disease are removed before the meat is shipped.

"We have completed inspection of the cargo and have not found any violation of the requirements," said an official at the quarantine office of Narita International Airport.

The US cargo contained 4.3 tons of chilled beef and 300 kg of tongue and diaphragm produced by Harris Ranch Beef Co of California. The importer is Marudai Food Co. Ltd., a Japanese maker of ham and sausage.

A Marudai spokesman said the shipment was sampled to assess its quality, and samples would also be provided to its customers such as retailers.

"As we have not treated US beef in the past two years, we need to check its quality first before recommending the meat to clients," he said.

Nippon Meat Packers Inc, a major Japanese meat processor, said it would also import a small volume of US beef for quality checks, and the cargo was scheduled to arrive in Japan on Sunday.