Thomas Schieffer, the US ambassador to Japan, said the US may allow Japanese inspectors greater access to US meat inspection facilities, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun said in a report today (27 January).

The move is designed to reassure Japanese authorities and consumers that US beef is safe. It is hoped that Japan will resume imports of US beef, which were suspended after a shipment of US beef was found to contain prohibited beef cuts that are considered to represent a higher risk of carrying bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Japanese officials have criticized the US inspection system, refusing to reopen the country’s lucrative market until the incident is fully investigated and sufficient countermeasures are in place.

A team of Japanese inspectors are already examining 11 facilities across five states, but a strong segment of Japanese opinion demands Japanese inspectors be given access to all US facilities handling meat for the Japanese market, the report said.