Updated May. 19, 2008 07:55
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has spoken for the first time on the growing controversy over U.S. beef imports in Korea.
Deputy Director General Jean-Luc Angot told Korean correspondents in Paris Friday that no bovine spongiform encephalopathy was found in American cows less than 30 months old.
Scientists think that if only muscles are consumed, cattle more than 30 months old are safe, he added.
He said the organization does not get involved in international and beef trade, saying the related parties should resolve the issue. I am aware that the agreement between the two countries has more restrictive standards than the OIE set, he said.
If specific risk material is removed, Angot said, the OIE sees that muscles, the meat itself, are safe whether the cows are under or over 30 months old.
The fact that the U.S. does a sample test for BSE and not the whole test does not undermine its credibility, he said. Focused tests for high-risk cows are important.
He also refuted the allegation that Europeans only eat beef from cows under 24 months old, saying that in the case of dairy cows, Europeans eat even old ones.
The OIE is the only organization that sets disinfection procedures and standards for animal diseases as authorized by the World Trade Organization. Korea and the United States are among the OIEs 172 member countries.