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Technology developed to screen pork imports

Dec 04,2017
The National Agricultural Products Quality Management Service (NAQS) said Sunday that it has developed technology that differentiates the country of origin of imported pork - a process that previously was only able to be done by the human eye.

The core technology that supports this method is chemical analysis that reads the different amounts of mineral and organic compounds inside the meat. NASQ is a state organization in charge of inspecting and certifying the safety and quality of farm products.

The breed of pig slaughtered for pork is universally equal, said NAQS, which makes it difficult to tell where the pork is from by relying on human eyes or using genetic analysis. However, the chemical substance of the pork can differ according to the feed, water and the breeding environment they are grown in, including soil types or climate, creating a difference in the meat’s consistency and quality.

According to government statistics, the average Korean ate 23.3 kilograms (51 pounds) of pork last year, double the amount of beef and chicken.

Around 30 percent of the pork sold in Korea is imported. Because local consumers have a high preference for local products, pork produced here is two times more expensive than imported pork.

The outbreak of animal epidemics in the last few years and human accidents regarding chemical substances have created more calls for safer food and more thorough screening processes for imported food.

The inspections will be conducted at the NASQ’s Digital Forensic Center. Opened last week, the center will focus on inspecting illegally-distributed farm products based on digital analysis and information technology.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]