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U.S. Clarifies Stance on Beef Row

Posted May. 05, 2008 08:15,   


The U.S. Department of Agriculture held an emergency press conference for Korean correspondents in Washington on Sunday afternoon in an attempt to dispel the growing Korean public’s fear over the safety of U.S. beef.

At the conference, Under Secretary of the Department for Food Safety Richard Raymond explained U.S. safety standards regarding slaughtering and packaging of beef and its observance conditions. He also tried to ward off the suspicions that even American people consume Australian beef for fear of mad cow disease.

The U.S. government, who is fully aware of the growing backlash in Korea against the resumption of U.S. beef imports, has held a rare Sunday news briefing in order to allay the safety concerns, according to political watchers.

In a similar move, the Wall Street Journal carried a news article to voice its concern over the controversy, quoting U.S. government officials as saying, “Ninety-six percent of U.S. beef is consumed by American people and the remaining 4 percent is exported to foreign countries. We import beef from Australia and Canada, but it is to meet demand for minced beef used for hamburgers.”

The newspaper criticized the lax attitude of both governments, saying, “Some misleading arguments over the safety of U.S. beef are spreading through the media and the Internet, but the failure of both the U.S. and Korean governments to correct them have led things to spiral out of control.”

The Korean-American Association in New York also echoed on Sunday the opinion of the newspaper by issuing a statement that says, “Some Korean media outlets are taking issue with the safety of American beef without providing convincing evidence, which distorts the sentiment of the Korean people.”

“The fact that we eat the same beef as the one Korea is going to import bears out the safety of U.S. beef,” said officials of the association. They added, “Korean-Americans residing here are being victimized by some Korean people who oppose U.S. beef imports on the ground of possible outbreak of mad cow disease, not by the consumption of cattle infected with the disease.”

“At a time when many ethnic Koreans here in the United States do their utmost to help ratify the KORUS FTA, this unproductive controversy will result in adverse effects on the approval of the deal by the Congress,” said the statement.

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