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Japan to resume imports of Canadian processed beef, 20 years after mad cow disease

Cattle pause as they graze winter pasture in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies near Longview, Alberta, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2004. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh Cattle pause as they graze winter pasture in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies near Longview, Alberta, Thursday, Jan. 8, 2004. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
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Japan is lifting the last of its restrictions against Canadian beef, 20 years after BSE, often called mad cow disease, devastated this country's cattle industry.

The federal government says Japan is reopening its doors to processed beef and beef patties from Canada.

The move puts an end to the market access barriers Japan put in place in 2003, after a case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, was discovered in Alberta.

While Japan initially shut its border to all Canadian beef, it has been lifting restrictions in stages over the years, most recently with its 2019 decision to begin accepting Canadian beef from cattle older than 30 months of age.

The federal government says Japan is now Canada's second-largest market for beef, with exports worth $518 million in 2022.

Around 40 countries closed their borders to Canadian beef during the height of the 2003 BSE crisis, resulting in billions of dollars in losses for the industry.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2023.

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