A necessary evilThe system in which restaurants must state the origin of the beef they serve takes effect today. However, it seems to be making a false start from the outset.
The number of restaurants being monitored has increased to 640,000 nationwide, but the administrative staff is not nearly big enough to carry the load.
The self-employed, such as restaurant owners, are the ones most affected by the current economic slump. It is not simple to change advertisements and menus for all side dishes or pot stews with beef as the main ingredient. In addition, given the complex distribution process, restaurants only carry so much of the responsibility.
People are already showing growing opposition. Until they learn to implement the beef origin system, we will have to put up with a considerable amount of inconvenience and costs.
However, marking the origin of beef is a national pledge. Most of all, the system is considered a most basic safety tool to protect the farmers who raise Korean cattle. We will no longer have to endure infringements on consumers’ decisions and choices. Rights to eat low-priced American beef, as well as the right not to eat it, should be guaranteed.
Even if there were no American beef controversy, the system of marking food origin was a task that we needed to strengthen. It is a well-known fact that a lot of imported beef was disguised as Korean beef and sold widely. We cannot leave this matter unsettled, as it is an act of deception against consumers.
As shown by the current global food crisis, the scope of free trade should be further expanded. The question is how to secure the safety of imported food.
The only realistic means is to strengthen quarantine and implement the system of publicizing beef origins. Restaurants should not lose their nerve and feel a sense of crisis due to the system. Rather they should see it as a new opportunity.
A restaurant that strives to profit by deceiving consumers should disappear. In contrast, a trustworthy restaurant will pave a new way to secure more customers. That is a principle of well-organized market.
In this sense, it is of great import that the authorities conduct thorough surveillance. It is a necessary evil to launch a food-paparazzi system.
Judicial authorities should punish people who violate the rule more strictly than ever before, rather than simply imposing a fine. That is the only way for society to protect public health.