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First U.S. beef arrives in S. Korea after ban

  • Story Highlights
  • Resumption of U.S. beef imports follows a nearly five-year ban
  • Thousands of people in South Korea have protested against resumption
  • Initial shipment of 1.5 tons of ribs and other bone-in cuts arrived at Incheon
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SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) -- The first shipment of U.S. beef under a controversial import deal arrived in South Korea on Tuesday, state media reported.

The resumption of U.S. beef imports follows a nearly five-year ban after a case of mad cow disease turned up in the United States. It also comes in the midst of continuing public concern over it.

Tens of thousands of people in South Korea have protested the South Korean government's decision to resume beef imports from the United States.

The initial shipment of 1.5 tons of ribs and other bone-in cuts arrived by plane at Incheon International Airport, said Nerp Corporation, a Seoul-based meat importer, according to the Yonhap news agency.

The beef will be under quarantine for about 10 days for testing before it can be sold.

South Koreans have regularly protested the resumption of U.S. beef imports since April, when the government announced it was ending the five-year ban.

The widespread public protests essentially paralyzed the government of President Lee Myung-bak, who has replaced seven top aides and reshuffled his Cabinet.

After a series of negotiations, Seoul and Washington came up with a revised agreement last month -- one that limits imports to cattle younger than 30 months old. Animals older than 30 months old are considered at a greater risk for mad cow disease, which can be transmitted to humans.

The revised agreement also excludes the import of certain parts believed more susceptible to mad cow disease. The initial deal would have allowed the import of all U.S. beef imports.

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Scientists believe mad cow disease spreads when farmers feed cattle recycled meat and bones from infected animals. The U.S. banned recycled feeds in 1997.

Eating meat products contaminated with the illness has been linked to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a rare and fatal malady in humans. Until the 2003 ban, South Korea was the third-largest market for U.S. beef exporters.

All About South KoreaLee Myung-bak

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