SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Another shipment of prohibited U.S. beef was mistakenly exported to South Korea, an official said Tuesday, less than two weeks after Seoul lifted a brief ban on American beef imposed because of two similar cases.
Seoul reopened its market to American beef last year following a three-year ban due to mad cow fears.
Only boneless meat from cattle under 30 months old, which are considered less at risk from the disease, are accepted.
Beef meant for the U.S. domestic market, which may contain certain kinds of bone or spinal cord material, cannot be exported to South Korea.
Four boxes of beef, weighing about 287 pounds, were mistakenly sent to South Korea as samples on June 2, although they were meant for domestic consumption, said Kim Do-soon, an official with South Korea's Agriculture and Forestry Ministry.
The U.S. Agriculture Department informed Seoul of the latest mistaken shipment, Kim said.
Two U.S. meat plants, run by Tyson Foods Inc., processed the beef and have been suspended from handling meat bound for South Korea, the official said.
It was the third time in less than a month that the United States has mistakenly exported beef meant for domestic consumption.
South Korea slapped a de facto ban on U.S. beef imports earlier this month after two shipments meant for domestic consumption arrived in late May.
The ban was lifted days later after Washington assured Seoul that the two shipments were mistakenly exported.
The latest finding is expected to have a negative effect on U.S. efforts to get South Korea to open its beef market wider. South Korea was the third-largest foreign market for American beef, after Japan and Mexico, before it banned U.S. beef imports.
Tyson was also linked an earlier banned shipment, but said it was not responsible because it sold the product to a third-party company _ identified by U.S. officials as Am-Mex International _ which shipped it abroad.