“Bovine Spinal Columns” Lead Japan to Ban Tyson Beef Shipments


In another big step forward for food safety and international diplomacy, a Tyson meatpacking facility has been banned from shipping beef to Japan after Japanese authorities discovered bovine spinal columns in 732 boxes shipped from the Nebraska plant. Although Tyson claimed the delivery was the result of a mix-up, this is the second time this particular factory has been suspended for shipping beef that failed to comply with Japan’s strict safety standards. As the Post reports, Japan banned all U.S. beef shipments in 2003, after the first U.S. case of mad cow disease. Its safety standards are some of the most stringent in the world; under a bilateral trade agreement, American exporters must remove spinal bones, brain tissue, and other parts linked to mad cow disease from their beef shipments. The Tyson incident, which was the second suspension for this particular factory, occurred one day after a U.S. Trade representative urged Japan’s agricultural minister to lower his country’s safety standards. In hindsight, this makes Costco, which struck a deal with Tyson to do E. coli testing on the beef trimmings it buys from the meat company, look even more prescient.