South Korea is moving to gain the status of a country free of mad cow-disease, the government said Thursday, a move that may help the country start exporting its beef for the first time in its history.
Currently, the country belongs to a group of countries with controlled risks for bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
The government will ask the World Organization for Animal Health on Friday to be awarded the status of a country with negligible risks, it said in a press release. The animal health organization is more commonly known by its French name -- the Office International des Epizooties, or the OIE.
No outbreak of the mad cow disease has ever been reported in South Korea, but the country has also strictly prohibited the use of animal feed that contains meat or bone, the known cause of BSE, over the past eight years.
It has also conducted regular surveillance against the use of protein feed in accordance with OIE guidelines, scoring 410,000 points in surveillance in the past seven years, well past the 300,000 points needed for the status of a risk-free country, according to the ministry.
Once the country's request is filed, the OIE will likely form a task force to review and evaluate the country's current conditions, it said. A final decision will likely be made at the OIE general assembly slated for May next year.
"We believe it will help the country export its beef in the future if it is given the status of a country with negligible risks for BSE, which will also mean that the country's quarantine efforts against BSE are internationally recognized," the ministry said.