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Opinions differ widely at third meeting on ractopamine

Opinions differ widely at third meeting on ractopamine

Taipei, March 3 (CNA) The third inter-ministerial committee meeting on ractopamine came to an end Saturday, generating a wide range of opinions on the health risks of the substance, which Taiwan is considering to allow for domestic usage and in imports of meat. Professionals debated feverishly for over four hours before coming to only one conclusion: the United States, where ractopamine is allowed as a feed addictive, should provide more large-scale studies on the effect of the leanness-enhancing drug on animals. The committee, however, failed to deliver clear statements on issues of great public concern, such as the safety of ractopamine and whether Taiwanese people's habit of eating internal organs may escalate the level of risk. Scientific studies and reasons why the European Union (EU) has adopted a zero-tolerance system toward ractopamine were reviewed, although no consensus was reached. During the first 90 minutes of the marathon meeting, some attending for the first time challenged conclusions drawn from the first two meetings in February. Previous observations contained too many implications, said representatives from the Consumers'Foundation and the Homemaker's Union and Foundation, organizations that oppose relaxing the ban on the feed additive. It was misguiding, for example, to say"there have been no reports about livestock ractopamine poisoning or consumers being poisoned because of eating meat with ractopamine residues,"said Su Wei-shuo, a doctor. To prevent the misunderstanding that ractopamine is safe for human consumption, Su suggested that the statement be changed to "large-scale studies have not been found to address the health effects of humans eating ractopmaine-tainted meat." An official record and press statement had not been issued at the time this article was published. The meeting was hosted by Agriculture Minister Chen Bao-ji and joined by a dozen government officials and experts from various fields -- food and animal science, biology, psychology and toxology. Their names were announced to the public after complaints that relevant authorities had hand-picked the attendees to endorse their decision. The meeting was also broadcasted live for the first time to ensure transparency. The next meeting has not yet been scheduled but officials said"there will definitely be one." Ractopamine is allowed as a feed additive in 20-plus countries including the U.S., but is banned in Taiwan, China and the EU. In a telephone interview with CNA a day earlier, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said that it has released scientific material that states the safety of ractopamine. It is available on the AIT's website, said AIT Public Affairs Section Chief Sheila Paskman. The institute represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic ties. The AIT had said earlier that it hoped Taiwan would consider lifting the restriction on meat containing ractopamine based on scientific evidence. (By Nancy Liu)


Updated : 2020-12-06 07:34 GMT+08:00