South Korean Parliament Looks to Tighten Beef Safety

As Korea resumes imports of U.S. beef, members of Parliament are writing bills aiming to deal with BSE fears.

Still fretting that bovine spongiform encephalopathy and other maladies will slip into South Korea following its resumption of imports of U.S. boneless beef, members of Seoul's parliament have submitted bills seeking to tighten safeguards on beef and other agricultural imports.

The bills would require all restaurants and school cafeterias to serve beef and rice with country-of-origin labels; ban genetically modified food from school fare; prohibit the use of beef raised on offal; and eliminate the use of offal in feed production for cattle, deer and other similar animals, Yonhap News reported.

"If we can't prevent the import of beef that has a risk of (BSE), at least we should guarantee consumers with the right to know," Rep. Kang Ki-kap of the minor opposition Democratic Labor Party said.

Yonhap reports that food-hygiene standards are currently applied loosely in South Korea. Among restaurants, only 2.7 percent are required to use food ingredients marked with a country-of-origin label because the law applies only to those establishments whose square footage exceeds a specified level. Schools, meanwhile, are exempted.


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