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Local company denies its pork products contain toxic drug

Local company denies its pork products contain toxic drug

Taipei, March 13 (CNA) A Taiwanese food producer on Tuesday denied an accusation based on a report by a private laboratory that its sausage products contain residues of a banned drug salbutamol. Chu Juo-yu, spokesman for Hsin Tung Yang Corp., said the I-Mei Foods Co. laboratory is not officially qualified to run safety tests for leanness enhancing drugs. All the meat that Hsin Tung Yang uses for its processed products is bought from Certified Agricultural Standards (CAS) suppliers and all the company's products have passed safety tests, Chu said. He was responding to a statement by Kuomintang Legislator Tsai Cheng-yuan, who cited an I-Mei laboratory report as showing that two local brands of sausages and other pork products sold in Taiwan supermarkets were recently found to contain residues of salbutamol The products include locally produced Chinese-style sausages, chilled pork, grounded pork, streaky pork and hog livers, all sold at supermarkets, Tsai said. The report showed that the products contained traces of cimaterol and salbutamol, a drug that is 100 times more toxic than the controversial feed additive ractopamine, the lawmaker said. The sausages were produced by Taiwan Farm Industry Co. and Hsin Tung Yang Corp., Tsai said, displaying the lab report at the Legislature. He urged the relevant health authorities to pay attention to the safety of locally produced fresh pork and processed pork products. Hsin Tung Yang's Chu said his company's own tests on the same products as claimed in Tsai's report show that they all meet the government's requirements. Tsai's comments came amid a raging controversy over the government's decision to ease its zero-tolerance policy on ractopamine, a livestock feed additive that is legally used in the United States to enhance leanness in animals. Salbutamol and cimaterol are banned around the world because of their high toxicity, according to the Council of Agriculture. Tsai said he suspects that unscrupulous hog farmers in Taiwan are using salbutamol in pig rearing because it is much cheaper than ractopamine, which is marketed under the commercial name Paylean. In response, Feng Run-lan, a deputy division chief at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said the FDA was not aware of the report. The FDA has not received any tainted pork samples from the I-Mei laboratory, as regulations require, she said. So far this year, local health bureaus around Taiwan have tested 87 samples of fresh pork and processed pork products sold in domestic markets and have found no trace of leanness enhancers, Feng said. However, health agencies last year found one sample of locally produced pork that contained 0.5 ppb of ractopamine and another sample that had 45.3 ppb of salbutamol, she said. Meanwhile, I-Mei Foods associate manager Wu Rung-tsan denied that the company's laboratory had been commissioned by Tsai to test the pork products. "Tsai did not ask I-Mei to do the tests, therefore there is no chance that we would have given him the report," Wu said. Since the ractopamine controversy arose this year, the I-Mei food safety laboratory has received several requests to test meat products for leanness enhancers, Wu said. However, the laboratory will stick to business ethnics and will not publicly discuss the test results, Wu said. "I-Mei is clearly aware of the relevant commercial ethics," Wu said. "Besides, the companies named are in the same business as I-Mei. Our company will not do anything to break the rules." The I-Mei Food Safety Laboratory gained prominence last year when Taiwan was hit by a food safety scare, involving a wide range of locally produced food and beverages tainted by a toxic plasticizer. I-Mei, a longstanding Taiwanese food producer, was one of the few companies whose products were untainted, thanks to its establishment of a modern laboratory that screens all its raw materials. (By Sherry Tang, Chen Ching-fang, Yang Shu-min and Elizabeth Hsu)


Updated : 2021-10-23 07:26 GMT+08:00