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Civic groups sue officials over meat leanness residue

Civic groups sue officials over meat leanness residue

Several civil rights groups brought a lawsuit against health and agriculture ministers Friday, accusing them of violating the Anti-Corruption Act over recent discoveries in Taiwan of meat products containing banned leanness-enhancing drugs.
Chen Man-li, chairwoman of the Homemakers’ Union and Foundation, said the groups sued Chiu Wen-ta, minister of the Department of Health, for negligence as Taiwan’s top health official for being unaware of the existence of leanness enhancer-tainted meat products in Taiwan despite the fact that all types of muscle-growth animal feed additives, including ractopamine, are banned in the country.
The groups sued Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji for allowing the process of examining food products and meting out penalties to take three months to complete, seriously impeding the Taiwan public’s right to purchase safe food, she said.
Ho Tsung-hsun, an official of the Life Conservationists Association, said that over 20 civic groups have joined a campaign to bar U.S. beef, a number that is expected to increase to some 100 by next week, when they will take to the streets on the issue in front of the Council of Agriculture.
Chang Hung-lin, executive director of the Citizen Congress Watch, said that Chiu, Chen and their predecessors were confident that the country’s restrictive laws have been adequate enough to keep questionable U.S. beef at bay.
However, he said, the recent detection of beef products containing leanness enhancer ractopamine was a slap in the face for the government.
Responding to the lawsuit, Chiu said he respects “all kinds of voices” on the issue.
Meanwhile, Premier Sean Chen said at the Legislative Yuan that he met with President Ma Ying-jeou recently and was told that Taiwan has made no promises to the United States to relax controls on U.S. beef imports, and that the government has no timetable or any preconditions on such opening.