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“We deeply regret the incident that has prompted Japan to suspend all U.S. beef imports," he said in a statement. "We are confident in U.S. beef safety and are committed to providing any assurances needed to restore exports.
"It is our understanding that a small shipment of veal from calves that were under 6 months of age was shipped. The product was inspected and passed by USDA as safe, but contained bones prohibited by the Japanese. This product is consumed with confidence here in the U.S. It is important to note that BSE has never been detected in an animal this young.
"Despite this shipment, sent in error, the facts are indisputable: U.S. beef and veal remain among the safest in the world. Experts say that the U.S.' proactive, preventive BSE firewalls have made the level of BSE in the U.S. so low it can scarcely be quantified.
"We understand that USDA will revalidate all plant export programs in a committed effort to show Japan that we take our promise to them seriously. We will cooperate fully with USDA and look forward to restoration of beef trade with Japan.
"This incident points to the need for uniform, global export standards to prevent the sort of trade disruptions that this error has caused."