U.S. beef remains suspended in Korea

by Editor fleischwirtschaft.com
Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Quarantine inspections of U.S. beef in Korea remain suspended due to the discovery of banned bone material in a shipment last week.

The Ministry of Agriculture released a statement last Friday following the discovery of a section of backbone, designated specified risk material (SRM), in a box of beef from processor Swift and Co.

Consequently, the Korean trade does not expect U.S. beef to be available in commercial volumes before the end of the year. This is a significant shift from earlier expectations that U.S. beef would be available in October this year, including bone-in.

The Korean Agriculture Minister indicated in media reports that while the discovery effectively halts imports of U.S. beef, it will not derail talks aimed at changing Korea’s import rules.

According to Yonhap news, Korean and American officials were scheduled to hold working level technical talks in Seoul on Thursday and Friday this week to look at revising import rules. Chuck Lambert, U.S. Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture, is leading a group of negotiators to meet with Korean officials and the group hopes to make progress in reopening the market to U.S. beef.

This is the second time that quarantine inspections have been halted this year, with a similar suspension during much of August. It means that U.S. companies can still export beef to Korea, however it will not be inspected by quarantine and will not be released to the market until new import protocol can be negotiated, and/or the suspension lifted.