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Korea positive about beef rating

July 20,2009
Korea will seek controlled-risk status regarding mad cow disease, according to the Agriculture Ministry yesterday.

The ministry said it will submit the status application to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) as early as next month.

The OIE, a United Nations organization, formulates a country risk assessment for mad cow disease. It has so far granted 32 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Britain and Japan, such status.

Korea is currently classified with an undetermined risk status. The OIE technical committee is expected to issue a final ruling in May 2010.

The ministry is upbeat about the result of the ruling. In order for a country to acquire controlled-risk status, its point target for samples, the number of cattle tested for the disease - should be over 300,000 with a seven-year period. The more cows examined, the more points a country gets from the OIE. According to the ministry, Korea has already notched up 370,000 points.

“We have examined many cows with abnormal health conditions and acquired enough point targets, so we don’t think it will be hard for us to acquire the status,” said Lee Joo-won, an official at the ministry.

A controlled-risk country is allowed to export all beef from cattle under 30 months old that do not contain specified risk materials.

Countries with a lower risk are given a negligible rating, the highest safety level in that category. As of May this year, 11 countries, including Australia, Norway, Singapore and Sweden are classified as negligible risk carriers.

The Korean government said it believes the OIE classification will help improve the credibility of domestic beef here.

“Local consumers will be also more assured about the sanitation of Korean beef,” Lee said.


By Moon Gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]



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