South Korea Tuesday banned the import of all Chinese beef stock widely used for soups after finding a potentially harmful chemical, officials said.
The food ministry said it found Clenbuterol, a chemical which can cause a rapid pulse, stomach ache and various heart-related disorders, in 13 out of 17 shipments checked last week.
A temporary ban on the Chinese product took effect immediately and the ministry ordered a recall of beef stock which had arrived since April 6.
"The government has asked China to ban the export of beef stock until they have discovered the cause of the contamination," National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Service chief Lee Joo-Ho told reporters.
Lee said Chinese processed meat products such as smoked duck and sausage are also being recalled and tested.
Clenbuterol can be used to treat asthma under medical supervision. But South Korea bans its use to enhance muscle tone in livestock.
The ministry said 61 Chinese shipments of beef stock totalling 331 tons are still being checked.
Out of a total of 827 tons of Chinese beef stock imported this year, 496 tons have already been consumed, it said.