The first shipment of United States beef under a controversial import deal arrived in South Korea on Tuesday, officials said, amid lingering public concerns over mad cow disease.
The 1.5 ton shipment, which includes ribs and other cuts with and without bones, was sent to a storage facility near Seoul for quarantine inspections, which could take up to two weeks, according to South Korean quarantine authorities and Nerp Corp., a local meat importer. The shipment is the first after Seoul and Washington agreed in April to lift the import ban, which was later revised due to large South Korean street protests. The shipment also marks the first authorized import of the U.S. beef including bones in nearly five years. South Korea banned U.S. beef after the first case of mad cow disease in the US was discovered in late 2003. Limited imports of boneless beef were briefly allowed last year and then were suspended again when banned materials, such as bones, were discovered in a shipment. Bones had been banned over fears they raised the chances of contamination. The April beef import deal triggered near-daily street rallies over perceptions the country could be exposed to mad cow disease, prompting the entire South Korean Cabinet to offer to resign and leading Lee to replace his top advisers and three ministers.