TOKYO – In Japan, a panel of experts recommended that US beef from cows up to 30 months old be permitted into the country, according to the Associated Press. The proposed change also applies to beef imports from Canada, France and the Netherlands.

The recommendation will go to Japan’s Health Ministry, and will invite public comments. The public comment phase could begin later this year or early 2013, according to AP.

Since 2005, US beef imports had been limited to beef from cows 20 months or younger based on fears of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). Japan banned US beef imports in 2003 when a BSE case was discovered in the US.