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South Korea suspends US beef importsnews
02 August 2007

After a recent shipment of US beef bound for South Korea was found to contain banned part considered a "specified risk material" that could carry mad cow disease, Seoul has suspended US beef imports in to the country, the Yonhap news agency has reported.

The South Korean agriculture ministry said it halted quarantine inspections of American beef shipments yesterday after discovering a banned vertebral column in a recent shipment, Without such inspections, the beef cannot be brought to market.

Earlier in December 2003, the country had halted American beef imports after the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, referred to as mad cow disease, in cattle in the US.

The country had partially reopened its market last year but agreed to accept only boneless meat from cattle less than 30 months, considered to be less at risk of carrying the illness.

In an unrelated development on US beef exports, the US and its long-time ally Japan today started a two-day technical meeting in Tokyo to discuss keeping US beef imports free of mad cow disease even as Washington has asked Japan to relax its import restrictions.

Japan allows imports of US beef only from cattle 20 months or younger. Meat with certain bone or spinal material cannot be imported.

The two-day, closed meeting, a follow-up to previous talks held in June, will focus on fresh data provided by the US on cattle feed and the surveillance system in the United States.

Japan had also banned American beef imports in December 2003 but eased the in December 2005, but tightened restrictions again after discovering prohibited spinal bones in a veal shipment the following month.


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South Korea suspends US beef imports