South Korea has lifted a ban on the use of animal feed additive zilpaterol in beef, opening the door to imports containing the growth enhancer as well as domestic sales of the product.
Seoul said last October that it intended to ease its zero-tolerance policy on zilpaterol-based drugs, such as Merck & Co Inc's Zilmax, after a risk assessment found it could be permitted at certain levels. Many European countries as well as China ban the import of zilpaterol-fed beef due to concerns about side effects of the additive, which is used to aid growth in the weeks before animals are slaughtered.
South Korea last year suspended some US beef imports for more than two months after traces of zilpaterol were found in two shipments. An official at South Korea's food ministry confirmed that imports of beef muscle with 1 part per billion (ppb) of zilpaterol, 5 ppb in beef liver and 10 ppb in beef kidney had been approved as of late last month. The approved levels are lower than in other countries, such as the US, which permits 12 ppb of zilpaterol in beef liver.
Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs of the Republic of Korea