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South Korea Suspends U.S. Beef Imports

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Published on Nov 26, 2006

CHAN: South Korea will suspend imports from a U.S. packing plant after finding bone chips. It comes after the East Asian nation lifted its three-year ban on U.S. beef.

STORY: The chip found through X-ray examination is the size of a coffee bean. It was found in beef exported by Kansas company Creekstone Farms Premium Beef.

Small as it may be, it's enough to cause a commotion.

[Kim Chang-seob, Agriculture Ministry's Cattle Immunity Department]: "Examinations by the Agriculture Ministry's National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service of 8.9 tonnes of U.S. imported beef, imported on October 30, showed that bone chips were found."

Kim says imports from Creekstone will be temporarily halted.

[Kim Chang-seob, Agriculture Ministry's Cattle Immunity Department]: "As bone chips have been detected, the Quarantine Service expresses concern over the safety of U.S. beef and they are expected to request that the U.S. government strictly adheres to the import sanitary conditions."

Another ministry official says beef from other approved US packers will continue.

South Korea only allows imports of US beef from cattle less than 30 months old. It recently ended a 3-year ban after mad cow disease was found in the US.

Seoul says if tiny bone fragments are found in other exports, the originating plant will be barred from dealing with South Korea.

Brains and spinal cord marrow are also considered risky elements.

The U.S. once accounted for over two-thirds of South Korea's beef imports, or about 850 million U.S. dollars in annual products.

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