Meat on display at a supermarket in Seoul. (Yonhap)
South Korea on Tuesday suspended quarantine inspections of Canadian beef following the discovery of a mad cow case in the North American country.
The agriculture ministry said the move effectively banning imports went into effect four days after Canada confirmed a cow in Alberta was infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), also known as mad cow disease.
The ministry said the latest BSE case was the "atypical" type and less risky than "typical" cases as it doesn't spread to other cows. Exposure to BSE can cause fatal, brain-wasting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.
It marks the first time in six years that a mad cow case has been confirmed in Canada.
In February 2015, South Korea halted quarantine inspections of Canadian beef after the confirmation of a mad cow case in Alberta.
Ten months later, Seoul resumed Canadian beef imports.
The ministry said it has requested the Canadian government to provide related information on the latest BSE case before it will decide whether to resume quarantine inspections.
In May this year, the Paris-based World Organization for Animal Health categorized Canada as a "negligible BSE risk country," which means its beef is the most safe to consume.
In the first 11 months of this year, South Korea imported 10,676 tons of Canadian beef, accounting for 2.6 percent of Seoul's total beef imports.
Canada is the country's fourth-largest beef exporter, following Australia, the United States and New Zealand. (Yonhap)