October 3, 2007


Mislabelling prevalent in South Korean beef



About three percent of butcher shops and small supermarkets in South Korea are mislabelling imported beef or meat which actually came from local cows or "hanwoo" -- a domestic cow grown for local consumption.


Despite tightened regulations and frequent crackdowns, the Korea Consumer Agency, a branch of the Fair Trade Commission, said it checked 100 samples of beef at 100 butcher shops and small supermarkets in Seoul, Busan and other major cities between July and August. Among them, three products found in the Seoul area and in Busan were dairy-cow meat or imported beef, the agency said.


Meat from milk cows is not considered hanwoo. As domestic beef prices were 2.5 times higher than imported beef and meat from milk cows as of September, there might be an increasing number of attempts to take larger profits by disguising imports as locally grown meat, the agency said. Many individual butcher shops do not have certificates of authenticity and other necessary documents, the agency added. Earlier this year, the National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service said it found 3,634 cases of intentional mislabelling of product origin last year, up 12.5 percent from the previous year, as extensive use of DNA and other scientific screening methods helped discover offenders.