BSE Inspection System

BSE Inspection System FAQ

BSE Inspection system

Testing for Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE, commonly known as Mad cow disease) includes a screening test (primary inspection) which is conducted at meat quarantine stations, and then a confirmation test (secondary inspection) which is carried out by an inspection agency determined by the government on all meats that tested positive in the primary inspection. If meat tests positive on secondary inspection, a group of government specialists meet to determine how the situation should be dealt with.
See the BSE inspection and distribution system pages for more details.

Screening process

Frequently asked questions about BSE

An outbreak of Mad cow disease (BSE) happened in Japan in September 2001.
Now there is a reliable system in place that stops infected meats and other related products from being put on the market or distributed to retailers in order to ensure consumer safety.
This part of our website aims to respond to questions consumers have about BSE so that everyone has the facts they need to be able to enjoy eating beef with peace of mind.

Is it safe to eat beef and drink milk?
  1. Results of inoculation tests carried out in England by exposing mice to specimens from infected cattle have not demonstrated contraction of the disease from specimens taken from parts of infected cattle other than specified risk materials (specifically; the brain, spinal cord, oculus, and distal ileum). These tests show that the disease is not infectious according to World Organization for Animal Health and European Medicines Agency standards, meaning that eating animal products from cattle with Mad cow disease would not cause infection in humans.
  2. Furthermore, the removal of all specified risk materials and BSE inspections are being carried out on all slaughtered cattle as of October 18, 2001, and only meat from cattle that pass these inspections is put on the market. There are also strict systems in place to ensure that any meat which does not pass these tests is not put on the market, used for food, or used to feed other animals.
  3. Some people are concerned about whether or not it is safe to consume beef and milk because of BSE, but we encourage you that these products are indeed safe and you can enjoy them with peace of mind.
How are BSE inspections carried out?

The first test carried out at meat quarantine stations on all cattle slaughtered for the meat market is a test for immune response using the ELISA (Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay) method. ELIZA testing is considered to be the best method for primary inspection as results can be obtained quickly and the test is highly sensitive.
However, its high sensitively also means that while no infected cattle are missed, sometimes uninfected cattle also react positively to the test.
For this reason, a secondary inspection is then carried out using western blotting, a more precise testing method, on all cattle that tested positive in the primary inspection. During secondary inspection the brain is examined under a microscope (a tissue examination) as well as a western blotting test, and inspection results are discussed amongst specialists to determine whether or not it is a case of BSE.
These tests ensure all instances of BSE are caught before distribution and there is no chance that infected meat could end up on the market.

Are Japanese people eating too much meat these days?

Lately there is talk that Japanese people are consuming too much fat and therefore should refrain from consuming animal products. However, the amount of fat consumed by an average Japanese person in one day is only 60 g, less than half of the 140 g consumed daily by Americans, and it is Americans who are saying they need to reduce the amount of meat in their diets for health reasons.
The consumption of animal products are thought to be one of the factors that contributed to a dramatic increase in Japanese peoples' life expectancy after World War II. Nowadays, the Japanese diet is acclaimed for containing a good balance of both animal and plant fats.
It can therefore be assumed that at this point there is no need for the average Japanese person to reduce the amount of meat in their diet.

I heard that beef is rich in physiologically active substances - what does that mean?

Physiologically active substances are substances that regulate bodily function. A lot of different types of physiologically active substances have been discovered recently and these have subsequently become a hot topic.
In particular, beef is high in an amino acid called tryptophan and this is known to aid in the production of serotonin which enhances mental wellbeing and contributes to a sense of fulfillment and happiness.

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