February 20, 2009

South Korea finds excessive levels of antimicrobial agent in Spanish pork

South Korea halted imports from a Spanish meat exporter after finding excessive levels of antimicrobial agents in frozen pork, the government said Thursday (Feb 20).


The National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service (NVRQS) said more than permitted levels of enrofloxacin and ciprofloxacin were found in a 23-tonne shipment of pork that was brought into the country on February 9.


Tests showed that the pork from the meat exporter had 0.7 parts per million (ppm) of the agents in the pork it shipped, which is higher than the maximum limit of 0.1ppm set by Seoul. The shipment has been rejected with meat to be sent back or destroyed.


Antimicrobial or synthetic antibiotics either kill or prevent growth of microbes, bacteria, fungi and viruses, and most government permit their use as long as residual levels are within set limits.


Enrofloxacin is commonly used to treat livestock but excessive use can lead to blindness and serious seizures in animals.


Ciprofloxacin is also widely used to treat bacterial infections, although it has been cited for causing damage to the digestive system and tendon ruptures in people.


NVRQS said shipments from the meat exporter that were put on ships before the ban went into effect on Wednesday and those already in the country will be checked more thoroughly.


The meat packer detected had shipped 3,287 tonnes of pork to South Korea in 2008 that all passed inspections.


Spain was the ninth largest exporter of pork to South Korea as of 2008 with the total reaching 25,224 tonnes.


Last year the country imported a total of 210,000 tonnes of foreign pork, with the US accounting for a third, followed by Canada, Chile, France, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands and Hungary.

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