Beef growth additive ban lifted in South Korea

The controversial animal feed additive, zilpaterol, will now be allowed in South Korea after a ban on the growth-booster used in cattle was lifted earlier this month.

According to a report from International Business Times, the lifting of the ban will now allow imports and domestic sale of beef from cattle given zilpaterol to be permitted in the region although it still remains banned by a number of European countries and China due to concerns about side effects of the additive.

Based on information originally published by Reuters, an official at South Korea’s food ministry confirmed that imports of beef muscle with 1 part per billion (ppb) of zilpaterol, 5 ppb in beef liver and 10 ppb in beef kidney had been approved and are “scientifically safe, even if consumers have them for the rest of their lives.”

Used to aid growth in animals weeks before they are slaughtered, zilpaterol was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2006 and is allowed in higher levels in other countries, including the United States, which permits 12 ppb of zilpaterol in beef liver.

Previously, zilpaterol-based drugs were part of a zero-tolerance policy in South Korea after the country suspended some beef imports from the United States for over two months after traces of zilpaterol were found in two shipments. The United States, Australia and New Zealand, are key exporters of the meat to the Asian nation.

South Korea delayed the decision to lift the ban for a month after a request from China. The reason for the request was not known, the ministry official said in the article. South Korea first announced its intention to alter its zero-tolerance policy on zilpaterol-based drugs in October 2013, following a risk assessment.

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