Inspectors to decide whether poultry can return to S. Korea commissaries
SEOUL — Forget the beef, where’s the chicken?
Fresh poultry went missing at U.S. Forces Korea commissaries this summer and returned for a short time in September, but now the fowl possibly have run afoul again, according to the U.S. military and its South Korean chicken supplier.
Military food inspectors still are worried about the levels of bacteria in chicken from Moguchon, the commissaries’ South Korean supplier, according to the 106th Medical Detachment commander and the chicken company.
“A few weeks ago, the company that processes poultry for [the Defense Commisary Agency] voluntarily removed their product due to minor problems related to refrigeration and storage in their processing facility,” Col. Stanley Smith, the detachment commander, said in a written statement Friday.
“Plant personnel have been working over the last month in correcting the refrigeration and storage rooms and these problems are reported to be corrected,” he wrote.
Both parties said an inspection is scheduled for early this week to determine the safety of the poultry, and Moguchon officials said they are confident they will pass inspection.
The company first pulled the poultry from South Korea DECA stores in July, when the detachment discovered higher-than-normal bacteria levels during routine testing.
The bacteria was found to be a “normal organism,” but in higher quantities than normal, Smith said at the time.
The concern, according to Moguchon, is about E. coli bacteria that can cause severe intestinal illness and, in some cases, death.
Moguchon officials said their chicken passes South Korean quality standards, but American standards are stricter. They said that during the hot summer months, the company’s fleet of refrigerated trucks had a hard time chilling the fresh meat according to American standards.
The general manager for Moguchon said military inspectors also asked the plant to develop a better drainage system during storage and to ensure the meat is covered adequately during processing.
Military officials have reported no illnesses because of the bacteria and called the most recent concerns “minor.”