Taiwan allows beef containing ractopamine

More U.S. beef is expected to be available to Taiean consumers by September at the earliest.

The Legislative Yuan of Taiwan passed amendments to the Act Governing Food Sanitation July 25 allowing imports of beef containing traces of the leanness-enhancing feed additive ractopamine.

The revisions, which authorize the Cabinet-level Department of Health to set up permissible residue levels for ractopamine in imported beef, while maintaining bans on the drug in pork and the import of internal organs from U.S. cattle, were passed in an extraordinary legislative session.

“We will set up maximum residue levels in accordance with international standards,” the Cabinet said, adding that the government will require strict labeling of U.S. beef.

Kang Jaw-jou, director-general of the DOH’s Food and Drug Administration, added that while the MRL for ractopamine in beef will be determined in one to two weeks, other administrative procedures will take longer. The prohibition on beef containing ractopamine will probably be lifted in September at the earliest, he said.

The revised act also stipulates that if in the future the consumption of beef with ractopamine residues below the MRL results in health problems of any sort, the government must immediately halt beef imports.

Following passage of the amendments, President Ma Ying-jeou said resolution of the U.S. beef issue sends out the message that Taiwan wants to participate in regional trade integration to a greater extent, according to Fan Chiang Tai-chi, spokesman for the Presidential Office.

“Talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement between Taiwan and the U.S. can be resumed after a five-year hiatus, and a more advantageous environment has been created for Taiwan to take part in the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Fan Chiang said, citing Ma.

“Conditions are now more mature for inking free trade agreements with other countries, and Taiwan is less likely to be marginalized.”

Sheila Paskman, spokeswoman for the American Institute in Taiwan, said AIT welcomes the decision by the Legislature and hopes the MRL for ractopamine can be determined as soon as possible.

Grace Kuo