Korean Americans refute safety of U.S. beef

Posted on : 2008-05-10 14:29 KST Modified on : 2019-10-19 20:29 KST
U.S. meat industry shifting responsibility for bad food onto consumers, U.S. researcher says

Government officials, including Food, Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries Minister Chung Woon-chan, have claim that U.S. beef is safe, saying that Koreans living in the United States have been eating American beef for decades. A number of Korean Americans, however, have strongly denied this claim.

In a telephone interview with The Hankyoreh on May 9, Lee Seon-yeong, a housewife living in Atlanta, Georgia, said, “Many Korean people in the U.S. have been doubtful about the safety of American beef since the recent beef recall incident. I want to know the source of the assertion that says that some Koreans in the States enjoy American beef.”

In the television program “100 Bun Toron” (“100-minute Discussion”) broadcast on the previous day, Lee said, speaking by telephone, “As far as I know, more than 90 percent of the beef being distributed in the United States is from cows younger than 24 months. I don’t think it’s right for people to argue that the beef imported to South Korea (which can include beef from cows older than 30 months) is the same as that distributed in the U.S.”

The agreement reached between South Korea and the United States is that beef from cattle of any age can be imported into the country, a reversal of South Korea’s previous decision to only import beef from cows younger than 30 months. Cows older than that are more likely to be at risk of contracting mad cow disease.

Christine Ahn, a researcher at the Korea Policy Institute in Los Angeles, said, “According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control, 76 million Americans, one in four, come down with food poisoning every year. Americans have a common perception that the problem stems from food coming from outside the country, from China or Mexico. Instead, it’s our food that’s the problem.”

She went on to say, “Instead of cleaning up its own act, the American meat industry has shifted responsibility onto the consumer, not just in the United States, but also in countries where U.S. meat is exported. The United States is using bilateral trade agreements to arm-twist weaker countries into accepting its food safety standards as a tool to expand the market control of U.S. corporations. South Korea is the latest victim.“

Please direct questions or comments to [englishhani@hani.co.kr]

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