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Shipping Mistake Adds to Complicated Japan Beef Situation

While Washington tries to convince Japan to ease its restrictions on U.S. beef, a shipment to the country Friday did not include the proper papers.

A beef shipment arrived in Japan without proper papers, the agriculture ministry said Friday, resulting in the country halting imports from Cargill Meat Solutions in Dodge City, Kansas. The ministry says that four boxes of frozen beef tongue did not come with the required U.S. government papers.

This is the third U.S. meat plant to be taken off of Japan's list. Plants in Los Angeles and Nebraska were taken off of the list because of improper documentation and packages of beef sausage found in a shipment.

This incident comes during U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab's attempts to convince Japan to lift its restrictions on U.S. beef. Schwab spoke to the Japanese Farm Minister Toshikatsu Matsuoka last week, and although the U.S. is expected to be designated a "low-risk" region at a World Organization for Animal Health meeting in late May, Matsuoka is demanding that Washington allow Japan to inspect U.S. meatpacking facilities to ensure they are in compliance with Japanese import regulations, as the two countries agreed in 2006.

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