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Most Japanese would avoid eating American beef

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Feb 13, 2005
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75% Of Japanese Say They Won't Eat US Beef

Tue Dec 6, 2005 07:04 AM CST

-Respondents Cite Concerns Over Safety; Say Japan Should Demand Blanket Testing

TOKYO (AP) -- Most Japanese would avoid eating American beef even if imports were resumed, with consumers deeply wary of U.S. beef because of fears about mad cow disease, according to a news agency survey released Tuesday.

Just over 75 percent of respondents in a telephone poll by Kyodo News agency said they would be unwilling to eat U.S. beef, compared to 21.2 percent who said they would consume it, the agency said.

Japan's food safety watchdog last week started studying public comments on a report that found little difference in the risk of infection from mad cow disease between U.S. and Japanese beef -- a final stage before recommending that a 2-year ban on the imports be lifted.

In the Kyodo poll, 62.5 percent of respondents who intended to shun U.S. beef cited concerns over its safety, while 20.6 percent said there was no need to eat U.S. beef due to the availability of domestic and Australian beef.

In response to a multiple-answer question on what the government should do before resuming American beef imports, 56.5 percent said Japan should demand the U.S. conduct blanket testing of all slaughtered cattle for mad cow disease, and 35.1 percent stressed the need to ensure that any conditions imposed by Japan are fully observed in the U.S.

Tokyo banned American beef in December 2003 after the discovery of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease.

Japan was then the most lucrative overseas market for U.S. beef, and an increasingly impatient Washington has pushed hard for the ban to be lifted. The Japanese government has said it will resume imports as soon as it gets the go-ahead from the food safety commission.

Eating beef from parts of cattle prone to becoming infected with mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, can cause a fatal brain disorder in humans.

Kyodo's poll had 1,009 respondents and gave no margin of error.

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