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Mad Cow Disease Causes South Korea to Pull U.S. Beef from Shelves
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A South Korean retailer has suspended the sale of beef from America after the first case of mad cow disease in six years in the United States was confirmed earlier this week. Health officials said that the American public is not at risk for disease because the confirmed cow, from California, was not in the human food chain and was never exposed to the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) through the animal feed.

“It was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health,” said John Clifford, the Agriculture Department’s chief veterinarian.


A food safety attorney for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Sarah Klein, said that consumers do not need to take precautions.

“A case of a single cow with bovine spongiform encephalopathy is not a reason for significant concern on the part of consumers, and there is no reason to believe the beef or milk supply is unsafe,” she said. “If the cow were exposed to the typical strain of BSE via animal feed — and the government says that’s not the case here — that would have represented a significant failure.”

LotteMart, a retailer in South Korea, decided to pull its American beef from its shelves in response to the discovery of mad cow disease. South Korea is one of the largest importers of American beef in the world.

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“Currently, the sale of U.S. beef is temporarily suspended to ease our customers from anxiety,” LotteMart said.

The government of South Korea said that it will increase checks on imports of U.S. beef but it will not stop import of the beef for now. There were 125,000 tons of U.S. beef imported by South Korea in 2010, which was a 97 percent increase from 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The cow was located at Baker Commodities Inc. in Hanford, California, according to Executive Vice President Dennis Luckey.

“We are in the business of removing dead animals from dairies in the Central Valley,” Luckey said on CNN. “As part of that program, we participate in the BSE surveillance program.”

A sample of the cow’s carcass was sent to the University of California at Davis for testing but it came back inconclusive. Then it was sent to the Department of Agriculture, where it tested positive. The carcass was in quarantine as of Tuesday night.

“We’re waiting now for USDA to tell us how to dispose of it,” Luckey said.



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