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Japanese beef treat may mean jail

A Japanese government employee who brought 15kg of meat to a reception in Dubai broke his country's food laws and could be penalised at home.

ABU DHABI // A Japanese government employee who brought 15kg of meat to a reception in Dubai broke his country's food laws and could be penalised at home. The man, part of a delegation that came to Dubai to promote Saga beef, brought the delicacy to a reception celebrating Japan's National Day at a hotel in the city last November. Under Japanese law, all domestic livestock and related products must be checked for safety before being exported. The country's animal quarantine department said the delegation was warned checks were necessary, regardless of the amount of meat involved.

The Japanese Consulate in Dubai, which helped organise the function, said an official from Saga, on Kyushu island, "misunderstood" Japan's food regulations, reasoning that the beef was not intended for export. On Monday, Yasushi Furukawa, governor of Saga prefecture, apologised to Shigeru Ishiba, the Japanese agriculture minister, over the incident. "They brought the beef with their own luggage," said Kenji Saito, Japan's deputy consul general in Dubai. "They thought, as long as they were bringing it in their own personal belongings, they don't need to go through process, but actually they needed to do it."

The maximum penalty for violating the law is three years in prison or a fine of 1 million yen (Dh38,280). The Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority said samples of foreign food products must be submitted to laboratories for testing before they can be brought over. mkwong@thenational.ae

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