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Thursday, 14th June 2012
In General Japan News,

Raw beef liver taken off the menu in Japan

A Japanese delicacy is set to disappear from the nation's restaurant menus, after the health ministry said that it was unsafe and should be banned – and no, it is not the notoriously deadly fugu pufferfish.

As of July, restaurants will no longer be able to serve raw beef to their diners unless they wish to receive a fine and possibly a jail term.

Concerns regarding the likelihood of raw beef liver causing food poisoning forced the ministry's decision and this week it issued the ban after the food sanitation council had previously approved the measure, the Yomiuri Daily reported.

Tests on beef liver have found evidence of bacteria including E. coli and Campylobacter, both of which can cause severe food poisoning, and research suggests that the only way to kill them and guarantee the meat's safety is to cook it.

Despite arguments that raw beef liver is fine for human consumption in the majority of cases, the health ministry took the decision because there was "no alternative" that would make it 100 per cent safe.

Any establishment found to be flouting the new law faces a maximum fine of two million yen (£16,235) and a possible prison sentence of two years.

However, the decision to ban its sale has been met with controversy, after the majority of the 1,532 responses to a public consultation objected to the proposal.

There are fears that it could hurt the livestock industry, with the price of cattle likely to fall as a result, and some farmers are worried that the move may put people off eating beef in general.

"To be honest, this hurts," 49-year-old cattle Kazuo Matsumoto told the news provider.

"I hear many people go to barbecue restaurants just to eat raw liver. I'm worried that the new rule might turn people off eating beef."

Tsutomu Sekizaki, director of the Research Centre for Food Safety at the University of Tokyo, believes that other methods could have been employed that would have avoided an outright ban.

"The ministry should encourage consumers to make their own decisions by providing them with adequate information, rather than imposing a blanket ban," he told Yomiuri reporters.

Written by Susan Ballion