Ambassador Baker Welcomes Japanese Expert Panel Decision on Beef

Press statement by Ambassador Howard H. Baker, Jr. in response to acceptance of "A Maturity" by Japanese expert panel

February 8, 2005

I am very pleased that the Japanese Expert Panel has agreed that the "A Maturity" grading system is an effective method for eliminating meat from animals older than 20 months of age from product exported to Japan. We have been working closely with the Government of Japan to demonstrate we are ready to meet all Japanese import requirements for U.S. beef and beef products. This decision is a concrete step in that process and I am confident that we can quickly finalize all remaining details.

The findings of the Japanese experts validate what I have known all along: US beef is safe. We have one of the strongest food safety systems in the world. The majority of Americans, as well as millions of Japanese visitors to the US appreciate American beef for its safety, nutrition and good value. We will be working with our beef industry to communicate to our valued Japanese consumers the extensive measures we take to ensure that we produce safe, quality beef.

One of the most important duties of any government is to protect its people. Both the U.S. and Japanese governments share an unwavering commitment to ensuring that the food consumed by our citizens is safe. Now that we have finalized a major portion of the technical side of this issue, I call upon the Japanese government to work with us to expedite the remaining implementation process, so that we may all once again enjoy US beef in Japan.