Looks like we’re going to have to bone up on what Bovine Johne’s disease is because Japanese authorities detected this disease in some of the 300 dairy heifers shipped to Japan last month from Australia. Although it isn’t known how many of the heifers of the 300 tested positive for Bovine Johne’s disease, Japan has suspended all beef imports from Australia. Bovine Johne’s disease is a “muscle wasting disease.” Apparently, Japanese authorities are not taking any risks in their decision to suspend imports of cattle from Australia considering this was the largest number of infected cattle from Australia. So, if the cattle were tested for the disease before leaving Australia, how do the heifers show up in Japan infected with Bovine Johne’s disease? Somebody not doing their job on the Australian end of the bargain? Shipment of beef from Australia to Japan is negligible (10,500 in 2015) so Gyudon (Bovine Johne’s free gyudon served here) prices aren’t likely to go up.
Japan suspends live cattle imports from Australia after positive Bovine Johne’s disease test
Japan has temporarily suspended live cattle imports from Australia, after a consignment from Melbourne tested positive for Bovine Johne’s disease.
A spokesman for Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said 300 dairy heffers were sent to Japan last month, but it was not known how many of them tested positive for the muscle wasting disease.
The Japanese Government said it was the largest infection rate in a shipment.
Chief Executive of the Australian Livestock Exporters Council Alison Penfold said the shipment of cattle had been tested for the disease before it left Australia.
“The consignment was certified as eligible prior to export, meaning that the testing at the time had negative results [in Australia],” she said.
“…We certainly support the work that’s underway, and the talks are underway, and certainly we’ll work with the Government to assure how biosecurity and health status is preserved,” she said.
Technical experts within the Australian and Japanese governments were now reviewing the test results, she said.
Japan is Australia’s ninth largest cattle market
Ms Penfold said it was a small but significant market, particularly for Wagyu breeders.
“I’m not aware of where the consignment was sourced from, though if they are dairy heifers they’re most likely to come out of Victoria,” she said.
“The trade to Japan across any type of cattle is relatively small, last year we exported 10,500 head of cattle, the majority of which are high value Wagyu rather than dairy.”
The Australian Department of Agriculture said it was investigating the incident to confirm the cattle which tested positive were prepared according to the importing country requirements.
“The department is working closely with the Japanese authorities on this issue,” a spokesperson said.
It is unclear how long the import suspension will last.