Two Grocery Chains In South Korea Halt Sale Of U.S. Beef Citing Mad Cow Concerns

Refusing to sell American beef is one way to spread fear about mad cow disease, even after the USDA assured consumers not to worry about the one cow in California that was found to have bovine spongiform encephalopathy, and that’s exactly what two major South Korean grocery chains are doing.

The AFP says the two retailers announced they’ve suspended sales of U.S. beef after yesterday’s news of a single cow with the disease. Lotte Mart says it’s stopped sales at all of its 95 outlets.

“From today, we have suspended sales of all US beef, reflecting consumer concerns. We will take our next steps after watching government action,” a spokeswoman told AFP.

Home Plus, which is owned by Britain’s Tesco, is doing something similar.

The USDA stressed yesterday that there was no danger that meat from the one affected dairy cow would end up in the food chain. South Korea wouldn’t import any beef that would be connected with that single California cow.

Mad Cow can be fatal to humans who eat an infected cow’s meat. As such, South Korea says it’s strengthening inspection imports and will take other steps once more details come out about the latest case. The country imports about 37% of America’s beef.

Elsewhere in Asia, the response is tepid — Japan isn’t making any policy changes and Taiwan’s authorities are undecided on whether to do anything. Singapore is already confident in its import requirements, calling them “sufficiently robust.”

Two S. Korea retailers halt US beef sales over mad cow [AFP]