It will be interesting to see if the Korean political left will try and demagogue this latest mad cow case in California to their own political advantage like they did back in 2008:
South Korea will beef up quarantine checks on U.S. beef imports and take other emergency measures following the latest discovery of a mad cow case in America, the farm ministry said Wednesday.
The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said it is checking details of the latest mad cow case and plans to take appropriate measures in accordance with the country’s prevention of livestock epidemics act and import health requirements pact reached with Washington that permitted the import of U.S. beef.
“At present, Seoul has not taken steps to halt customs clearance of imported U.S. beef,” a spokesperson for the ministry said. Stopping customs clearance of beef can effectively halt all imports.
The latest mad cow case reported in California is the fourth to be detected in the U.S. Seoul had banned U.S. beef imports in late 2003 after the first case was reported, but fully reopened the market in 2008 after long-drawn negotiations with Washington.
The ministry said that the latest case involving a dairy cow is not directly connected to beef that can be imported by the country.
Under the bilateral pact with the United States, South Korea only imports beef from animals under 30 months old with all specified risk materials (SRMs) removed. SRMs are parts of a cow that could transmit the fatal disease to humans. Humans who eat the infected SRMs can come down with the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, which has killed around 150 reported people so far.
U.S. health authorities, meanwhile, stressed that the case found was a very rare “atypical” case of mad cow disease that did not involve the animal eating animal protein-based feed that has been cited for causing the sickness.
The U.S. has halted protein-based feed from reaching animals to contain the outbreak of the disease. [Yonhap]