A total of 3,935 cosmetic and pharmaceutical items produced and sold in Japan are made from beef parts that may potentially carry BSE, according to an announcement made yesterday [Monday] by the Health and Welfare Ministry.

A ministry research panel has detailed the categorisation process by which the items will be graded according to their risk of BSE infection.

Category one products, comprising of items with a large density of high-risk beef parts (such as brains, spinal cords, eyes and small intestines) will be subject to an immediate recall, regardless of where the cow was raised.

The second category, containing items with low-risk beef parts or a low density of high-risk parts originating in the countries that have experienced mad cow outbreaks, will be subject to a swift recall.

Items in the third category will have been produced in BSE free-countries and contain a low density of high-risk parts of beef grown. The ministry will recommend the use of alternative ingredients where possible for such items.

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Of those products highlighted for categorisation, 70% (2,855) are cosmetics. The remainder are quasi-drug products (945), pharmaceutical items (94) and medical instruments (41).

The ministry has revealed that so far five drugs and 39 medical instruments have been classified under category one, and all had been recalled by Friday.