September 3, 2014
South Korea lifts ban on beef with feed additive
South Korea has lifted a ban on the use of growth enhancer zilpaterol in beef, Reuters reports.
Seoul said last October that it intended to ease its zero-tolerance policy on zilpaterol-based drugs, such as Merck & Co Inc's Zilmax, after a risk assessment found it could be permitted at certain levels.
Many European countries as well as China ban the import of zilpaterol-fed beef due to concerns about side effects of the additive, which is used to boost growth in the weeks before animals are slaughtered.
South Korea last year suspended some United States beef imports for more than two months after traces of zilpaterol were found in two shipments.
Imports of beef muscle with 1 part per billion (ppb) of zilpaterol, 5 ppb in beef liver and 10 ppb in beef kidney had been approved as of late last month. The approved levels are said to be scientifically safe even if consumers have them for the rest of their lives.
Approved levels were lower than in other countries, such as the United States, which permits up to 12 ppb of zilpaterol in beef liver.
South Korea is a major importer of beef from Australia, the United States and New Zealand.
Zilmax was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 2006. South Korea's assessment of its ban was carried out at the request of Merck's subsidiary MSD Animal Health Korea.