Japanese meat processors provoke questions

Related tags Nippon meat packers Bovine spongiform encephalopathy

Did Nippon Meat Packers, Japan's biggest meat processing company,
incinerate beef that might have linked the company to a plot to
collect undeserved subsidies under a government beef-buyback
programme? The question is on the lips of consumers and politicians
alike.

Did Nippon Meat Packers, Japan's biggest meat processing company, incinerate beef that might have linked the company to a plot to collect undeserved subsidies under a government beef-buyback programme? The question is on the lips of consumers and politicians alike.

According to a news report this week in Asahi Shimbun​, the beef Nippon Meat Packers burned without clearance had been returned by an industry association that acts as an agent for the government.

The buyback plan was established to keep beef from domestic cattle infected with BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) off the market before a more thorough inspection regimen was established. In the programme, the government, through six industry organisations, would buy up domestic beef for disposal. The news report claims that the programme, which was sloppily run, encouraged beef-mislabelling schemes by big distributors such as Snow Brand Foods and Nippon Shokuhin.

After concerns that the random sampling of meat submitted could invite fraud, the government switched to the labour-intensive approach of opening and checking every box of beef it received.

After the 100 per cent inspection started, one of six industry associations involved, representing sausage and ham processing companies, returned some of the beef submitted by the companies for receiving subsidy, saying its own inspections had turned up meat not qualified for the programme.

The association told the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry it wanted to withdraw an application for government purchase of about 7.8 tons of beef from nine members, including Nippon Meat Packers, but the ministry did not acknowledge the request. Despite this fact Nippon Meat Packers burned 1.3 tons of beef returned by the association.

Related topics Processing & packaging

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