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U.S. addresses problems in beef shipments

Feb. 17, 2006 at 2:41 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- U.S. Agriculture Department Friday issued a list of actions to be taken to ensure the safety of beef shipped to Japan.

The actions follow Japan's decision to ban U.S. beef shipments after it was found a shipment of veal last month contained banned materials.

In a 475-page report, the Department of Agriculture admitted mistakes were made by the plants involved in processing the meat and by the department inspectors who handled it.

"Those mistakes resulted from a lack of understanding of which products were eligible for shipment to Japan. The ineligible product included veal with the vertebral column intact and veal offal," the department said in a release.

The Department of Agriculture said the shipment never should have been certified for export.

To prevent such errors from occurring again, the department ordered all inspectors in plants to undergo mandatory training, ordered all plants to maintain a list of specific products certified for shipment to any country instead of a blanket export certification and ordered an improved method of keeping inspectors informed of a plant's eligibility status. Once shipments to Japan resume, a second signature will be required unless Japan decides it's unnecessary.

"I believe our actions fully address the facts that led to this incident and provide added protections on a broader scale to prevent similar problems in the future," Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said.

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