Since foot-and-mouth disease has surfaced in Japan's cattle herd, USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service has halted imports of Kobe beef into the United States.  The restrictions have actually been in place for a couple of weeks now, as APHIS notified U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the action on April 22.

APHIS is drafting an interim rule that would remove Japan from the list of regions recognized as FMD-free. Once published, that rule would indefinitely prohibit susceptible animals and most products from susceptible animals to enter the United States from Japan.

As of late May, more than 118,000 animals, including cows and pigs, from more than 130 farms had been culled.

In reality, this new import action affects only boneless Kobe beef. cuts, as beef and beef byproducts from Japan are already prohibited due to bovine spongiform encephalopathy concerns. On the pork side, product from Japan is not shipped into the United States due to swine vesicular disease and classical swine fever issues. However, cooked canned shelf-stable pork meat is allowed.

Ruminant and swine products and byproducts such as milk, milk products, blood/serum, tissues, nutraceuticals and research samples can only enter the United States with a Veterinary Services import permit, which lists treatments to mitigate for FMD. Shipments not accompanied by appropriate documentation of an FMD treatment will be refused entry.