The majority of pet foods ordered from overseas by Korean online shoppers last year were seized and trashed at the quarantine service for phytosanitary reasons, the Food Ministry said Sunday.
The National Plant Quarantine Service confiscated 2,231 packages, or 93.3 per cent of the total pet foods and animal feeds that entered the country via airmail in 2014, the ministry said.
According to the ministry data, pet foods take up about 82.4 per cent of all airmailed packages that failed the quarantine inspection last year.
Under the current regulation, pet foods with animal-origin ingredients require a sanitary certificate for entry into Korea. Pet foods with plant-origin ingredients also require the sanitary certificate, unless their ingredients are heat processed to a minimum temperature of 60 degrees Celsius for a minimum of 10 minutes.
With the rise of international online shopping by pet owners, the amount of pet food packages that failed airport quarantine inspection almost doubled in two years, from 4,634 parcels at 19,171kg in 2012 to 8,073 parcels at 32,331kg in 2014.
The pet food revelation comes two weeks after the recent controversy over Canadian beef, which is making the ministry cautious of a possible outbreak of mad cow disease.
Earlier this month, the ministry suspended the quarantine inspections for Canadian beef, after the Canadian government reported the outbreak of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, in a ranch in Alberta on Feb. 11.
"Mad cow disease does not spread through contacting the germ carriers like the foot-and-mouth disease," a ministry official said. "The only way of catching the disease is when a live animal preys on the infected or eats feed that contains the remains of the infected," he added.
As an increasing number of Korean online shoppers are ignorant or negligent of the cross-border sanitary requirements of pet foods, the authorities plan to strengthen quarantine service by hiring three more inspectors from the current 17.
"Uninspected feeds may contain harmful bacteria that spread contagious animal diseases," the MAFRA said, asking for pet owners' cooperation on the quarantine procedures.