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U.S. Beef Back In South Korea After Rejected Shipments

23 April 2007

SOUTH KOREA - A shipment of U.S. beef landed in South Korea on Monday, the first since Seoul rejected tons of the product due to the discovery of tiny bone chips, triggering trade tensions with Washington.

South Korea, which struck a free trade deal with the United States earlier this month, had ordered the return of all 22 tons of beef sent in three shipments at the end of 2006 after finding bone fragments the size of peas and grains of rice.

South Korean quarantine officials said they have changed their guidelines and will not reject all 6.4 tons of beef that arrived on Monday if bone chips are found, but only the packages containing chips.

"It can take up to 18 days maximum to inspect the beef and then it can be distributed," one official said.

Seoul had barred the imports after an outbreak mad cow disease in the United States in December 2003.

Once the third-largest export market for U.S. beef, South Korea in September partially reopened its market to U.S. beef from cattle less than 30 months old on condition that parts deemed risky, such as bones, were not included.

But tough inspections made it nearly impossible for U.S. meat to reach the market.

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Source: Reuters


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