Seoul, April 29 (Xinhua) -- South Korea will send a group of government officials, scholars and civic activists to the United States to look into the latest outbreak of mad cow disease amid growing food safety concerns at home, the farm ministry here said Sunday.
The nine-member team, led by an official at South Korea's Animal, Plant and Fisheries Quarantine and Inspection Agency, is scheduled to leave for the United States on Monday for a 10-day trip involving a visit to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The inspectors might not be able to visit a California farm where the latest case of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), was found, because the farm has yet to approve such a visit, the ministry said in a statement.
The trip comes after the new case of the fatal neurodegenerative disease was found in a California dairy cow, prompting calls on the government to immediately suspend quarantine inspections of U.S. beef and thus effectively halt all imports.
The government has yet to suspend quarantine checks, saying the California dairy cow that contracted mad cow disease was 10 years and seven months old and did not enter the food chain.
South Korea currently imports beef from cattle less than 30 months old with all specified risk materials (SRMs), known to transmit mad cow disease, removed.
The apparent inaction triggered criticism that the government is not delivering on its promise that it will suspend imports in case an outbreak of mad cow disease puts public health at risk here.
Progressive civic groups are planning to hold a rally in central Seoul next Wednesday to protest the government inaction. (Xinhua-ANI)
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