USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service issued restrictions on Japanese imports Friday, expanding bans on Japanese meats, already in place because of other diseases, to include Kobe beef, a popular product in some Hawaii restaurants.
"Under these new import restrictions, boneless/Kobe beef will now be refused entry, including in passenger baggage," USDA said, explaining that the new restrictions are being drafted. Other meats are already prohibited due to other disease outbreaks in Japan.
Foot-and-mouth, a highly contagious disease afflicting livestock, has been spotted in southern Japan. The outbreak is in Miyazakii, the southern island of Kyushu. Humans cannot catch foot-and-mouth from animals but they can carry the virus on their hair, skin and clothes.
"We are advising recent travelers to and from South Korea and Japan that have visited farms there to stay away from Hawaii farms, ranches and zoos," said Hawaii State Veterinarian James Foppoli.
The virus can live up to 28 hours in human nasal passages. In cattle, pigs, goats and other ruminants it causes boils on lips and hooves. The Japanese have euthanized 150,000 animals in hopes of containing the outbreak.
Beef is produced under Kobe conditions on the Big Island and on the US mainland, and this meat might be used to meat demand until it is again possible to get Kobe beef again.