SEOUL, Nov. 9 (Yonhap) — South Korea will reduce sampling inspections carried out on U.S. beef after no unauthorized materials that pose health risks have been found in products over the last five months, the agriculture ministry said Thursday.
Currently, 30 percent of U.S. beef is subject to a sample physical check as the quarantine authorities raised the ratio from 3 percent in mid-July after the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) from an 11-year-old cow in Alabama.
The discovery was the first mad cow disease case detected in the North American country in five years.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said it will lower the ratio of sampling to 6 percent starting from Nov. 13, and will cut it to the normal level of 3 percent next month if no suspicious cases are discovered.
The ministry said the BSE found in July was the “atypical” type and less risky, and was not found during the intensified check period.
Exposure to BSE can cause fatal, brain-wasting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.
The sampling check involves opening the package, defrosting the meat and cutting into it to check in detail.
Currently, U.S. beef that can be imported to Korea is restricted to cattle younger than 30 months with specified risk materials (SRM) removed in the slaughtering process.
South Koreans are sensitive to the mad cow disease issue, which led to nationwide protests against U.S. beef imports in 2008.