A nationwide ban on raw beef liver took effect recently at restaurants and retailers as the government took action to protect diners after a series of food poisonings last year. Violators face two years in prison or a fine of up to ¥2 million, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry, the Japan Times reports.
The ban was incorporated into the Food Sanitation Law after the food poisonings led to the revelation that there are no safety measures regarding raw beef liver for public consumption, a ministry official said, adding that the ban could be lifted if such methods are devised.
The move has drawn fire from the meat and food service industries, which argue that it runs counter to Japan's culinary culture. A health ministry panel recommended the ban in June after the O-157 strain of E. coli bacteria was found in cow livers.
In April 2011, five people including a 6-year-old boy died and around 180 were hit by diarrhea and vomiting after eating raw beef served at a "yakiniku" (barbecue) chain, although none of the dishes contained liver. The ministry responded in October by tightening standards for bars and restaurants serving such food, including the popular yakiniku chains.
The number of food poisonings traced to raw beef liver is substantially higher than those linked to raw beef, the ministry said. Restaurants serving raw beef liver were packed across the nation as people lined up to enjoy the popular dish before the ban took effect.
Source: The Japan Times