South Korea Bans Japan Meat Imports After Mad Cow Confirmation

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea banned livestock product imports from Japan on Sunday after Japan's farm ministry said tests had confirmed it had Asia's first case of mad cow disease.
Seoul had withheld quarantine on livestock products from the island nation since the discovery of a suspected case of mad cow disease in the Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo on September 10.
"We have changed the steps to an import ban from a temporary suspension after the Japanese government officially confirmed the disease," the Agriculture Ministry said in a statement.
Some 349 tonnes of cattle bones and feet from Japan which are in store at the quarantine office will be sent back or disposed of, it said.
South Korea has brought in only two tonnes of beef and some 260 tonnes of cattle foot bones from Japan since April. Imports of livestock products from Japan were banned up to April after foot and mouth disease broke out in the country early last year.
The ministry said South Korea had never imported Japanese meat-and-bone meal (MBM) of ruminant animals which is used for feeds.
The Japanese case, discovered in a dairy cow, was the first case in Asia of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which is believed to be transmitted through infected MBM fed to cattle.
BSE has been linked to the brain-wasting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD) in humans, which has killed over 100 people, mainly in Britain.
To prohibit the disease from entering Korea, the government will keep its ban on livestock imports from Japan and 30 European countries, including Britain.

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