US Beef Will Be Back In October

SOUTH KOREA - South Korean consumers can expect to see U.S. beef in the local market again as early as October. Seoul and Washington are nearing completion of negotiations on the resumption of the meat trade, which was recently halted due to the discovery of prohibited bone fragments in at least two separate shipments.
calendar icon 27 August 2007
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On Aug. 26, a high-ranking official of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said, “If the current five-step quarantine inspections are completed, the next step will be to begin consultations with the U.S. Around 40 days later, (imports of U.S. beef containing ribs and other bone fragments) will resume.”

“Some say that the resumption of imports will come before the Chuseok holidays, but it may be possible in early October,” he added. Chuseok is the traditional holiday celebrating the full moon and is one of two such holidays, the other being Seollal, that Koreans are expected to return to their hometowns to visit their families. Being a time of family gatherings and celebration, there is likely to be a large increase in sales of beef and other foods.

The government has pushed for a revision of current U.S. beef import regulations since late May, allowing imports of U.S. bone-in beef, a move upon which Washington has continued to insist.

Currently, Seoul officials are in talks to decide whether they will resume imports of U.S. beef, after having sent a questionnaire to Washington regarding the discovery of prohibited bone fragments in recent shipments of U.S. beef and conducting on-site inspections. The questionnaire asked for detailed explanations on the possible threat of mad cow disease from the meat.

South Korea halted shipments of U.S. beef in 2003, following an outbreak of mad cow disease. The government reinstated imports of boneless beef from cattle less then 30 months old in 2006, as these are seen to contain fewer risk materials for the disease. Earlier this summer, the government halted quarantine inspections of U.S. beef, following the discovery of ribs and a partial spinal column in two separate shipments. This means that shipments of the beef have still been allowed to enter the country, but are currently being held back pending the resumption of inspections.

On July 25, government officials opened a livestock quarantine meeting, to determine whether or not to resume inspections, but it closed with little progress due to Washington’s repeated violations of quarantine conditions.

Source: The Hankyoreh
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