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Taiwan will stop the import of US beef if BSE breaks out: Health Minister

Taiwan will stop the import of US beef if BSE breaks out: Health Minister

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan will immediately halt the import of beef from the United States if one case of mad cow disease is found, Department of Health Yaung Chih-liang said Thursday, describing the risk as nil.
Taiwan announced an agreement on October 23 to open up its market to bone-in beef and related products from the U.S. beginning November 10, touching off a wave of accusations that the meat could lead to a breakout of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease.
“The risk is so close to nil, it is nil,” Yaung told lawmakers Thursday, adding the government could inspect each case of U.S. beef arriving in Taiwan.
The country had the capability to conduct the first phase of the necessary tests, though for a second phase, the meat would have to be sent to Great Britain, Yaung said.
Taiwan would also send inspectors to any U.S. company planning to export beef intestines and offal, said Hu Hsing-hua, the vice chairman of the Council of Agriculture. The official claimed the procedures for testing the potentially risky beef products would be so lengthy and so expensive that no company would be interested in importing it into Taiwan.
President Ma Ying-jeou said the government’s decision achieved a balance between safeguarding public health and promoting Taiwan’s participation in international affairs. The government had only dared to allow the import because the U.S. would guarantee the safety of the beef at its origin, while Taiwan would take care of its borders, Ma said.
The Cabinet said it wanted any imports of risky beef parts to be handled by business associations rather than by individual companies, because that would insert one more level of supervision. Premier Wu Den-yih said that if companies wanted to import U.S. beef intestines, the DOH would have the right to turn down their application.
Ma said the government would respect decisions by importers, supermarkets and restaurants to refuse to handle the beef products, because that would not go against the spirit of the agreement signed with Washington.
It was better for businesses to take action than for Taiwan to try and reopen negotiations with the U.S., since that would damage the country’s credibility, according to the president.
New talks with Washington has been proposed by a wide range of critics, from the Consumers Foundation to the opposition Democratic Progressive Party and even by some ruling Kuomintang members such as Taipei County Magistrate Chou Hsi-wei.
DPP members of the Taipei City Council took their anger at the government decision to a protest outside the Presidential Office building.
Premier Wu confirmed that Yaung had tendered his resignation Wednesday morning to take responsibility for the controversy, but he had rejected it because he thought the health minister was doing a good job.


Updated : 2021-06-20 14:50 GMT+08:00