SEOULSouth Korea’s agriculture minister said Friday that an age limit on cattle for U.S. beef exports will be kept until local concerns over the meat subside.

Minister Chung Woon-chun told the South Korean parliament that the country has the right to start proceedings to stop the "Less than 30 Month Age-Verification Quality System Assessment (QSA) Program," agreed upon by Seoul and Washington in June.

The remarks came as critics of the "transitional" import program claimed that the U.S. government or meat exporters can decide that public sentiment in South Korea has sufficiently improved and stop the program.

The age limit was put into place on U.S. beef imports due to public pressure. The South Korean public has objected to an April beef import deal that would open up the Asian country’s market completely to American beef due to mad cow disease worries. The addendum was added in June in an effort to defuse daily protests. American beef started entering the South Korean market last month.

South Korea had previously banned all U.S. beef imports after a case of mad cow was discovered in Washington state in late 2003. The ban was partially lifted in 2005.


Source: Yonhap News Agency