South Korea has rejected a Dec. 1 U.S. beef shipment due to safety concerns - the fourth such rejection since Seoul lifted a ban on U.S. beef earlier this year.
This shipment contained higher-than-acceptable levels of the toxic chemical dioxin, a government official says. The South Korean Agriculture and Forestry Ministry found 6.26 picograms of dioxin per 1 gram of fat in a sample from the 10.2-ton shipment. South Korean standards allow a maximum of 5 picograms per gram of fat.
South Korea banned U.S. beef after the discovery of bovine spongiform encephalopathy in the U.S. in 2003. Although Seoul lifted that ban this year, four subsequent shipments of U.S. beef have been rejected. South Korea has drawn public criticism for the rejections from U.S. Ag Secretary Mike Johanns and incoming Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa.
South Korean officials cited the appearance of bone fragments in previous shipments as reasons for rejection. Seoul is asking Washington to explain why the shipment contained the dioxin.