Bloomberg News

Japan Halts Beef Imports From Tyson Foods Plant in Illinois

October 25, 2011

(Updates with export figures starting in third paragraph.)

Oct. 25 (Bloomberg) -- Japan, the third-largest buyer of beef from the U.S., has suspended imports from a Tyson Foods Inc. meat plant in Hillsdale, Illinois, a company spokesman said.

The suspension of shipments was made “pending a review of an order discrepancy,” Worth Sparkman, a spokesman for Springdale, Arkansas-based Tyson, said today in an e-mail. “We are working with the Japanese government to review the facts, and it is our hope the matter will be resolved quickly.”

In the first eight months of this year, Japan bought 311.3 million pounds (141,183 metric tons) of U.S. beef, up 38 percent from a year earlier, U.S. Department of Agriculture data shows. Only Canada and Mexico buy more beef from the U.S., where Tyson is the biggest meat processor.

Japan requires that any imported U.S. beef come from cattle aged 20 months or younger, because older animals may be at higher risk for mad cow disease, a brain-wasting ailment also known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The government is considering raising the age limit to 30 months, according to two ministry officials who declined to be named because of department policy. The nation was the biggest buyer of American beef before the first cases of mad cow disease in 2003.

-- With assistance from Aya Takada in Tokyo. Editors: Steve Stroth, Patrick McKiernan

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Campbell in Chicago at ecampbell14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net


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