Stricter inspections after mad cow case in U.S.The government announced that it will toughen inspections for beef imported from the United States after a rarely seen form of mad cow disease was found in Alabama Wednesday.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the government inspects 3 percent of the U.S. beef coming into the country. It plans to expand that to 30 percent. The ministry said it will also investigate how other countries, such as Japan, handle U.S. beef imports moving forward.
The government official, however, did not raise the possibility of immediately banning U.S. beef imports.
An 11-year-old beef cow in Alabama was confirmed to have the form of mad cow disease that is not dangerous to humans and that can occur spontaneously. This is the fifth case of the disease confirmed in the United States since 2003, and four were of the variety that is not dangerous to humans. There was only one case of a variety that can lead to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a fatal brain disease in humans who eat the affected beef.
The Korean Agriculture Ministry said that Korea imports no beef from U.S. processing plants in Alabama. Furthermore, Korea only imports U.S. beef from cattle that were under 30 months old when they were slaughtered. There are a total of 65 beef processing centers in the United States that are allowed to export to Korea.
The agriculture ministry added that it will request inspection reports related to this case as soon as possible from its U.S. counterpart.
Meanwhile, sales of U.S. beef in Korea continue to rise due to the high cost of hanwoo, or Korean beef. During the first five months of the year, Korea imported 64,775 tons of beef from the United States, up 30.4 percent from the same period last year.
Among total beef sales in Korea, overseas beef accounted for 58 percent, with 28 percent from the United States.
BY KIM YOUNG-NAM [email@example.com]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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