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South Korea recently agreed to let U.S. beef into the country for the first time since the mad-cow disease scare of 2003. And nearly a million Koreans took to the street in protests that threatened to topple the government. The president's entire cabinet offered to resign.

Korea has famously stringent food safety regulations, so this is a particularly touchy issue there. In fact, they started buying lots of U.S. beef in the first place because "U.S. exporters marketed U.S. beef as BSE-free meat" (very clever). When mad-cow showed up in U.S. beef in 2003 (even though there were only three cases), the cautious Koreans felt burned. A general dissatisfaction with the government and economy in Korea is also fueling protesters' ire.

All the same, we thought you should know that the safety of the domestic beef we blithely eat every day is threatening to topple a government on the other side of the world.

Fun fact: McDonald's ticker initials are MCD, same as the abbreviation for mad-cow disease.







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