Maybe we should keep the Koreans and get rid of the USDA! South Korea to begin U.S. slaughterhouse inspections By Tom Johnston on 5/7/2008 for www.Meatingplace.com Ahead of official resumption of imports of U.S. beef, South Korea will send inspectors to ensure U.S. slaughterhouses are producing beef to Seoul's standards. "Nine inspectors in four teams will be sent to 31 U.S. meat processing facilities that can ship beef immediately to South Korea on May 12-25," the National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service said, according to Yonhap News. "They will check if these facilities meet general sanitary conditions, properly remove risky materials and engage in separate meat carving processes for cattle older than 30 months." Though Korean media reports indicated the inspections come as public anxiety over the safety of U.S. beef mounts, USDA Press Secretary Keith Williams told Meatingplace. com that the move is simply a procedure under the new import protocol. "It's just the normal course of business," he said. Under terms of the new protocol, Korea has the option during the first 90 days of its effective date to audit and/or reject U.S. decisions on the listing of new plants or re-listing of previously de-listed plants. During the first 180 days that the protocol is in effect, exports of T-bone and Porterhouse steaks must include labels indicating these cuts derive from cattle less than 30 months of age. Seoul said it has no plans of re-negotiating the deal despite outcry from its public. The government will complete an internal review of the new standards by May 13 and begin quarantine inspections of imports on May 15, Yonhap reported. The government said local inspections will begin with the 5,300 tons of U.S. beef that have been held in storage since Oct. 5, when South Korea halted all quarantine inspections following the discovery of banned backbone parts.