The health ministry plans to ban sales of beef livers for raw consumption as early as in June to prevent food poisoning caused by potentially fatal E. coli bacteria, sources said.
The ban would be imposed under the Food Sanitation Law, with violators facing a maximum two-year prison term or a fine of up to 2 million yen ($24,096).
But meat industry officials are demanding continued sales of uncooked beef livers, saying the ban would result in tens of billions of yen in losses.
They said they are working on a new and safe method to eliminate E. coli from the inner parts of livers.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is expected to ask the Food Safety Commission at the Cabinet Office in April to assess the decision to ban sales. If the ministry receives the green light, the ban will take effect as early as in June.
A subcommittee of the ministry's Pharmaceutical Affairs and Food Sanitation Council, an advisory panel, on March 30 endorsed the ministry's proposal to require sufficient cooking of beef livers.
The proposal was made after the enterohemorrahagic E. coli, which causes bleeding in the intestines and includes the deadly O-157 bacterium, was discovered in beef livers in December.