Japan to relax U.S. beef import rules on Feb. 1

TOKYO Mon Jan 28, 2013 1:52am EST

TOKYO Jan 28 (Reuters) - Japan on Monday agreed to allow U.S. beef imports from cattle up to 30 months old from February, relaxing a restriction in place for about a decade on what was once the biggest market for U.S. exports.

Under rules imposed in 2005, U.S. beef imports had only been allowed from cattle up to 20 months old after a total ban in 2003 following an outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE).

Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said last week Japan would relax the restriction on Feb. 1 if the panel of medicine and food experts consents.

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