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South Koreans Meet With USDA Veterinarian on Mad Cow Disease

A South Korea delegation in the U.S. to examine food-safety procedures following last week’s disclosure that an animal with mad cow disease had been found in California met yesterday with the Agriculture Department’s chief veterinarian, John Clifford, the agency said.

The group is visiting U.S. laboratories, farms and rendering facilities to determine the effectiveness of U.S. measures against mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

“The United States remains confident in the safety of U.S. beef and dairy products,” Matt Herrick, a USDA spokesman, said in an e-mail after the meeting.

South Korea, which is experiencing public pressure to curtail U.S. beef purchases, said last week it would strengthen quarantine inspections. The government didn’t impose a ban on U.S. imports as it saw “no problem” with the safety of the beef given that the disease was found in a dairy cow more than 30 months old, Agriculture Minister Suh Kyu Yong told reporters last week. The country only accepts meat from younger animals.

South Korea was the third-biggest buyer of U.S. beef before it banned imports of the product after the nation’s first mad cow case in 2003. It resumed imports in 2008 amid widespread street protests against the move.

The latest U.S. mad cow discovery was the nation’s fourth, and the first since 2006.

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