Tensions grow as Taiwan strengthens beef controls

By Melodie Michel

- Last updated on GMT

Tensions grow as Taiwan strengthens beef controls

Related tags Beef products International trade Import Us Beef Pork

The Taiwanese government has created confusion among meat importers by increasing ractopamine controls on imported beef, two weeks after proposing to relax the ban on the controversial additive.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strengthened controls of imported beef to detect residues of the currently banned leanness-enhancing additive, “to ensure that the importation of beef products is in line with the relevant provisions of China’s food hygiene and safety, and to maintain domestic consumer confidence”​. However, as batch-by-batch inspections started yesterday at port and airport Customs, there were no US beef import declarations, leading FDA officials to believe that US beef importers were taking a “wait-and-see”​ attitude, the Taipei Times​ reports.

The FDA yesterday (20 March) invited experts, consumer groups, meat importers and exporters and catering associations to take part in discussions on ractopamine and labelling legislation, in an effort to calm the industry outcry generated by the government’s proposal to allow low levels of ractopamine in imported beef, announced two weeks ago.

According to FocusTaiwan​, China’s Premier Sean Chen vowed to step down if the government’s efforts to solve the beef dispute with the US compromised public safety, during a legislative interpellation session.

The Executive Yuan is currently considering the possibility to partially lift the ban on ractopamine in beef products, which has been hindering trade, mainly with the US and Australia. However, the proposals, which would apply to beef but not pork, and exclude offal products, were rejected by US exporters. A US Meat Export Federation (USMEF) spokesperson told GlobalMeatNews​: “Any solution that does not include pork is not a solution.”

Executive Yuan spokesman Philip Yang held a press conference yesterday to address the issue. He said that US beef issues were linked to Taiwan’s economic development and that, in light of the complexity of the national credit and national health factors, the government would conduct strict checks and polls to increase public trust in the its administrative capability.

He added that, in 2007, Taiwan drafted a bill setting ractopamine standards and notified international organisations in order to open meat imports, but that the draft was later dropped, affecting “not only China’s foreign trade trust relationships, but also contributing to domestic social concerns”​, and that it was necessary for the government to “actively”​ deal with the issue.

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