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U.S. Beef Imported Without Mad Cow Disease Check

Posted December. 25, 2003 22:46,   


As the “Origin Indication” system is not applied to beef sold in restaurants, it has been revealed that if customers who eat U.S. imported beef deceivingly labeled as “Korean Beef,” it cannot be subjected to the law. In addition, beef from the U.S. has been brought into the country without going through any specific inspection to check the mad cow disease which has recently broke out in the U.S.

According to these problems, anxieties on the negative effect of the “Mad Cow Disease” wave from the U.S. are stirring up and increasing.

On the current food sanitation ordinances, butchers have to disclose the origin of the meat sold in their shops, but for restaurants, no particular laws are addressed.

The government is worried about the possibility that some of the restaurants might deceive the customers, selling the beef imported from the U.S. as Korean beef.

“In order to crack down on the dishonest people, we have moved forward to revise the related ordinances, but we have failed to do so because of the complaints from the restaurant industry,” Agriculture Ministry explained.

It has been disclosed that the process to check beef imported from the U.S. also has many problems.

According to the sanitation law related to the imported beef and its products from the U.S., the only provision about the mad cow disease is that “the seller should not have an incident of mad cow disease break-out in the recent five years.”

“Essentially, we have to inspect the brain itself to check the mad cow disease. So, we can’t check whether or not the beef has infected with the virus. It is impossible,” disclosed the Ministry, adding, “It is nearly impossible to check the virus before it enters the country, so we have to believe in the cattle raising system of the exporting countries. This applies to most of the countries around the world.”

The Ministry has decided to intensify the disease prevention system, especially for the mad cow disease, from next year to establish the mad cow disease inspection agencies in the country’s nine provinces. Currently, only the National Quarantine Service deals with mad cow disease inspection.

As for the ban on U.S. imported beef, the Ministry confirmed that there would not be a lack of beef supply in the short term. The Ministry has decided to prepare long-term countermeasures, considering the beef market situation.

On the other hand, as the wariness of the customers increase, because of the break-outs of the Bird Flu and Mad Cow disease, negative influences on the economy such as depression on the year-end market are also expected.

Jin-Hup Song jinhup@donga.com