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U.S. Unsure About Beef Age Violation in Shipment to Japan

After Japan announced last week that it was shutting down beef imports from one U.S. plant, the U.S. still isn't sure if the shipment violated Japan's age rules for cattle.

Last week Japan announced it was shutting down imports from Tyson Food's plant in Lexington, Neb., because part of a beef shipment from the plant couldn't be proven to have come from cattle no more than 20 months old. However, USDA Secretary Mike Johanns said Wednesday that U.S. officials don't know for certain whether the shipment actually violated the rule.

Terri Teuber, a USDA spokeswoman, said in a Dow Jones report that USDA verified that the "additional boxes in the shipment" contained beef from cattle under 30 months of age. As to whether the beef met Japan's requirement of coming from cattle under 21 months of age, she said USDA just doesn't know.

U.S. and Japanese officials are talking to try to limit any ramifications from the incident.

"We are talking to Japan and we are working with Tyson," Johanns says. "We want to make sure that, number one, that it doesn't happen again and, number two, that Japan handles this in a reasonable way. So far so good."

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