Come July 1, it will be illegal to serve raw beef liver in restaurants in Japan.
The move comes after recent tests that show E. coli O157:H7 – the strain of E. coli responsible for most infections of the pathogen – was found not only on the exterior of raw liver, but also the interior, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Pathogens inside meat are more difficult to detect and kill than those on the surface.
And it’s a big deal – raw beef liver is a major dish in Japan, comparable to chicken wings in the U.S., according the Journal.
So far, the backlash has been intense. Several groups have protested the move, saying it could lead to further restrictions on raw food which makes up a significant portion of Japanese cuisine.
The ban, which begins July 1, will require beef liver to be cooked at 60°C (145.4°F) for at least 30 minutes or at 75°C for at least a minute. Penalties for noncompliance can result in fines up to ¥2 million (approximately $25,000 U.S.) and two years in jail. Raw beef liver may still be sold in grocery stores, but stores will be required to place signs near the meat telling consumers it should be cooked prior to eating.
The tests included 173 cow livers from 16 locations across Japan. Of those, E. coli O157:H7 was found on the exterior of five livers and the interior of three, according to inspections by Iwate University.
Officials began looking at ways to combat E. coli and other food safety concerns after an E. coli outbreak last year killed five people who had consumed steak tartare, a raw beef dish.
E. coli has been in the news several times recently for an outbreak in the Southern U.S. of E. coli O145 and recent testing requirements for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) that went into effect June 4.
Raw beef liver to disappear from menus in July – Daily Yomiuri Online
Looming ban sparks rush on raw beef liver – Japan Times