July 23, 2008

South Korea Orders Recall of Dioxin-Tainted Chilean Pork

Text of report in English by South Korean news agency Yonhap

[By Lee Joon-seung]

Seoul, July 23 (Yonhap) - South Korea's national quarantine service said Wednesday that it has ordered a recall of Chilean pork that may have been contaminated with dioxin after finding a package with a higher than permitted level of the toxic compound.

The National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service (NVRQS) said detailed tests conducted on a package containing 25.9 tons of meat from a Chilean exporter showed 2.3-15 picograms of the cancer- causing substance in the fat, which surpasses the 2-picogram limit set by Seoul. One picogram is equivalent to one trillionth of a gram.

The service said the package is the second from the 06-03 designated exporter that has been found to have shipped dioxin- contaminated pork.

Authorities said earlier this month that they found two separate shipments of pork that had more than permissible levels of dioxin, and halted imports from the exporters. All shipments that arrived in the country from the 06-03 and 06-17 designated exporters have been held in storage after the harmful toxin was discovered on July 3 and July 10. Shipments from the two companies have been put on hold pending detailed inspections.

"The package detected this time arrived in the country before the import ban of the particular meat packer went into effect and were not new imports," said a NVRQS official.

There are currently 209.9 tons of port imported from the two companies.

The official said that because there is a risk that other packages from the repeat-offender could be tainted, the quarantine service ordered the local importer to destroy all 78.8 tons of pork that were brought into the country along with the contaminated package. He said a recall has been issued for pork from 06-03 to prevent it from reaching the market.

The state agency under the Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said five teams have been set up to oversee the recall, and said businesses that fail to follow the order could face serious administrative action.

The Agriculture Ministry has started detailed inspections of all pork shipments from Chile to make certain that tainted meat does not reach consumers.

Chile is the second-largest exporter of pork to South Korea after the United States.

Originally published by Yonhap news agency, Seoul, in English 0624 23 Jul 08.

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