U.S. attorneys in New York have reportedly secured court approval of a consent decree with three companies that allegedly exported meat containing vertebral column to Japan in violation of U.S. trade requirements. The settlement resolves an action filed in March 2011 alleging that the companies exported veal containing ineligible bone and tissue fragments, which action resulted in Japan closing its borders to all U.S. beef products for six months, purportedly costing the industry $500 million in losses. Details about the case appear in Issue 385 of this Update.

Under the agreement, the companies neither admit nor deny the allegations, but they agree to “permanently provide additional access, record-keeping, and reporting in order to ensure ongoing compliance.” The decree also entitles the United States “to substantial and escalating monetary relief in the event of future violations for the next three years--$10,000 for the first violation, $25,000 for the second, and $50,000 for each violation thereafter.” The decree allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture to halt future exports and perform onsite inspections. See U.S. Attorney Press Release, April 19, 2011.