Local cattle growers demand tighter inspection of U.S. beef

KOREA - The head of a local cattle growers' group on Tuesday asked the government to conduct tighter inspections on U.S. beef being imported into the country.
calendar icon 7 November 2006
clock icon 2 minute read

In a meeting with reporters, Nam Ho-kyung, chairman of the Hanwoo Association, raised concern about the effectiveness of government plans to conduct sample searches on only 5 percent of all imports from the United States.

"Conducting sample searches is utterly ineffective, and will do nothing to alleviate consumer concerns over the safety of U.S. beef," the head of the 180,000 strong association said.

He also said many cattle ranchers were skeptical of the government's stance that it will send back or destroy beef that included bone parts.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said last week that the first shipment of U.S. beef had arrived and would be sold after the government has checked through the entire shipment for bone fragments and other unauthorized parts.

After conducting a complete search on the first shipment, Seoul will gradually cut back on the shipments it will screen to around 5 percent.

South Korea banned American beef in late 2003 after a mad cow case was reported. It ironed out a deal earlier this year to resume imports.

Under the agreement Seoul will not import boned beef, like ribs, and has banned all imports of specified risk materials (SRMs). SRM refers to brains, cranial bones, spinal cord marrow, backbones and intestines with the highest risk of transmitting mad cow disease to humans. Mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, spreads when cattle are fed recycled meat and bones. The disease is believed to trigger Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.

Nam then said many cattle growers wanted the government policy to take a firm stand to protect consumers.

He said many are asking the government to conduct DNA testing on all cows grown in the country, which is the case in Japan. He said checking the 2 million heads of meat producing cattle was not impossible since it would not only assure people that locally grown beef was safe, but increase South Korea's bargaining position with beef exporters.

Source: yna.co.kr

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