Party Chief Calls for Halt of US Beef Imports

SOUTH KOREA - Ruling party chief Park Geun-hye has said that South Korea should halt quarantine inspections of American beef until it is confirmed safe to consume, as criticism grew over the government's decision to continue imports despite a new mad cow case in the US.
calendar icon 27 April 2012
clock icon 2 minute read

Quarantine inspections are a key requirement US beef shipments must undergo to receive customs clearance. Halting the process would therefore have the same effect as suspending imports because shipments would not be cleared to reach the local market even if they arrive at the country's ports, reports YonhapNewsAgency.

The remarks by Mr Park, a leading presidential hopeful, increased pressure on the government, which has come under criticism for deciding to continue imports of US beef with strengthened quarantine inspections despite the recent confirmation of a case of mad cow disease in the US.

"I think the government should halt quarantine inspections until we get definite information convincing enough to the people through epidemiological investigation, and should suspend imports altogether if a final analysis shows there is even a slight problem with safety," Mr Park said during a visit to the southeastern city of Masan.

Mr Park said the government should not give the public the wrong perception that it is more interested in avoiding trade friction with the United States than in the health and safety of its people.

"I don't know how long it will be (before an investigation into the latest mad cow case is completed), but wouldn't people be worried during that period?" Mr Park said. "Therefore, it would be desirable to first halt quarantine inspections."

However, the South Korean farm minister has commented that South Korea does not have plans to halt customs clearance of US beef despite confirmation of a new mad cow case in California.

Minister Suh Kyu-yong said Washington sent a report providing details on the latest mad cow case and confirmed that the animal was a dairy cow over 10 years old and that it contracted a very rare "atypical" form of the brain wasting disease.

TheCattleSite News Desk

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