There has been strong political and consumer reaction to the Korean president’s decision to re-open the market to U.S. beef.
According to the decision there are no age restrictions and some SRMs are included.
A National Assembly hearing will be held on 7 May to discuss the more controversial aspects of the decision, and there could be enough influence by opposition parties to make some changes to the quarantine elements of the agreement.
Opposition parties have called for the president to scrap the decision based on the health threat posed to Korean consumers by U.S. beef. They have criticised the administration for agreeing to import meat of cattle older than 30 months, including SRMs such as brain, skull, spinal cord marrow and vertebrae.
They pointed out that even Japan and Taiwan don’t have such open access to U.S. beef. They were also critical of the government for not presenting adequate measures to protect Korean farmers from the expected declines in beef prices. Korean farmers held a large protest against the decision last week.
The Ministry of Agriculture announced in a press release this week that, with the resumption of the U.S. beef trade there will be a strong crackdown on the mislabeling of imported beef. Government, farmers groups and consumer groups will be involved in the crackdown ‘squad’ to protect the domestic Hanwoo beef industry from cheap substituted product. The squad will be inspecting butchers and restaurants over 300m2. When laws change in June, all restaurants over 100m2 will be subject to inspections.
Prior to the 2003 ban on U.S. beef there was a lack of country of origin labeling and substitution of cheap U.S. product for local beef was reportedly common place in Korea.
Source: Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA)