South Korea will resume beef trade with six plants owned by Tyson Foods, Inc. and Cargill, Inc. after the United States verified that recent beef shipments made in error were not the companies’ fault, the Agriculture Ministry said.

South Korea had suspended trade with the plants early this month after some meat for US domestic consumption was wrongly shipped to the Asian country.

“We cancel the ban on US beef imports from the plants as of today,” the ministry said in a statement.

The US agriculture department recently sent a letter to South Korea stating that private exporters and US inspectors had allowed the exports by mistake, the ministry said.

The country had received 15.2 tons of beef containing two boxes filled with short bones from two Cargill plants, while four plants owned by Tyson had shipped 51.3 tons of meat that should have been sold in the United States only.

At present, Seoul allows imports of boneless US beef from cattle less than 30 months old, while the United States has no restriction on age and meat cuts for domestic consumption.

Seoul sent back the beef and asked Washington to see whether the beef packers had violated trade rules.

South Korea, once the third-largest importer of US beef, accepted in April the first shipment of boneless meat into the country for sale since December 2003, when it imposed a ban after mad cow disease was found in the United States.

The country has been expected to be ready by September to resume imports of US beef with bones, while Washington has called on Seoul to ease import restrictions to help the passage of a bilateral trade deal. (Reuters)