U.S. pork industry representatives, including those from the U.S. Meat Export Federation, visited the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to discuss new standards for veterinary drugs and other chemicals in food products entering the Japanese market.

The U.S.delegation’s visit, on May 16-17, took place as Japanese authorities are preparing to enforce new maximum residue limit standards on May 29. 

Paul Sundberg, National Pork Board science and technology vice president, accompanied the U.S.delegation.   “Our discovery meetings were very positive," he notes. "Our goal was to find out more about the proposed new process, and Japanese authorities graciously answered most of our questions.” 

Japanimports food products from more than 200 countries, each one with different production and residue standards.  “The Japanese food-safety agency is treating all sources of food products, domestic or international, equally.  They want to be able to ensure safe products for the Japanese market,” says Sundberg.

U.S.pork producers are required to adhere to animal-health-product withdrawal standards determined by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.  Following product label guidelines, producers will satisfy most of the new Japanese guidelines as well. 

“Japanese authorities are confident that U.S.products will have no problems satisfying the new guidelines," says Sundberg. "They see the United Statesas one of the leaders in food-safety control processes and enforcement."

Sundberg adds that "it is in the pork industry’s best interest to comply with the standards and some animal-health products we use in the United Statestoday will require extended withdrawal periods.”

Japanis an important market for U.S.pork; it represents 45 percent of all U.S. pork exports, at a value of $1.070 billion.  

Pork producers are advised to take the following steps to find out if the new regulations require changes to their animal-health product use:

  • Contact their packer and find out if their hogs are being channeled to the Japanese export market and therefore affected by these new regulations.
  • Visit NPB’s Web site to determine if medications being used in their production operation have withdrawal periods that are impacted by the new standards. This information can be found at: http://www.pork.org/producers/JapanMRL.aspx. The Web page is updated frequently, so check back often. 
  • Contact the herd veterinarian to discuss changes to their herd-health program if their use of animal-health products is impacted.

Pork producers can find information on www.pork.org or through NPB's ProducerServiceCenterat (800) 456-PORK (7675).
National Pork Board