The US has asked Japan to delay its 1 July start date for assurances that any beef shipped from the US to Japan did not originate in Canada, according to US Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman.

Veneman said the US department of agriculture was “continuing to work diligently to address the request from Japan and Korea to discuss changes in their import standards as a result of the discovery of a single case of BSE recently reported in Canada”.

She added that technical experts from Canada, Japan and the US would meet to examine results of the Canadian investigation into the BSE case and “explore additional science-based safeguards.”

“Japan has proposed changes to their import standards, which they announced would be effective July 1. We have requested that Japan extend their announced July 1 deadline to provide sufficient time to assure thorough examination and implementation of any additional science-based safeguards that are determined appropriate as a result of these discussions.

“This matter is of utmost priority and we will continue to maintain communication at all levels to assure that this issue is resolved in an acceptable manner using the best available science,” Veneman said.