December 18, 2008
South Korea to introduce cattle and beef tracking system
South Korea on Monday (Dec 22) will introduce a comprehensive cattle and beef tracking system in a bid to increase consumer confidence.
The Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said the measures require all cattle ranchers to report and tag the dates of birth, sale and slaughter of the animals to improve quality control and facilitate a rapid response in case of a recall.
The system also requires slaughterhouses to check for ear tags and other records before processing cattle, in order to ensure consistency in meat quality and place of origin. This identification aims to help consumers easily determine where the meat comes from.
A failure to comply with guidelines could result in fines of up to KRW5 million (US$3,773). Consumers could also check the history of the meat they buy, through a government-run website.
The new rules will not be in effect until June 22, 2009, as slaughterhouses, packers and retailers would be given six months to upgrade their facilities to the required standard.
Last year, South Korea authorised the tracking system when it first reopened doors to US beef. The decision to open the market to US imports in mid-April this year raised public concerns about the risks of mad cow disease.
South Korea rears 2.9 million cattle, slaughtering 680,000 each year on average.