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Taiwan to send delegation to US to inspect mad cow disease

Taiwan to send delegation to US to inspect mad cow disease

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Council of Agriculture will send a delegation to the United States this week to review the latest outbreak of mad cow disease, COA Minister Chen Bao-ji said Wednesday.
The US announced last month that bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) had been found in the carcass of a dairy cow in Central California, reviving the debate in Taiwan on the need to ban the import of US beef.
The government decided against, despite strong protests from experts, consumers’ rights organizations and opposition parties. The ruling Kuomintang stopped legislative motions calling for a ban.
Chen told lawmakers Wednesday that he had received the planned itinerary from the US. The COA delegation would visit the nine slaughterhouses responsible for supplying 78 percent of US beef exported to Taiwan, as well as animal feed producers and laboratories over the course of one week, he said.
KMT lawmaker Yang Chiung-ying demanded to know why the COA waited two, three weeks before organizing the visit. The minister replied that he had to wait until the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) put the official announcement of the outbreak on its web site.
Chen said that four to six experts from the COA and the Department of Health would form the Taiwanese delegation.
Opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Huang Wei-cher wondered whether Taiwan should not share inspection duties with South Korea since a total of 52 US slaughterhouses were licensed to export beef to the Asian countries. Chen described the South Korean inspections as mere routine, while the Taiwan delegation would pay close attention to the whole slaughtering process and particularly its hygiene and treatment of potentially dangerous parts.
Both the US and Taiwan governments emphasized that because the animal infected with BSE was a dairy cow, there was no danger to meat consumers. Experts questioned that assertion.
The BSE outbreak came as the Legislative Yuan was considering changes to the Food Management Act concerning the feeding of lean-meat drugs to cattle in the US. The opposition wants to maintain the existing ban, but the government of President Ma Ying-jeou is planning to relax the ban in order to register progress in trade talks with Washington.
Critics have accused the president of sacrificing public health for the sake of pleasing the US. He has denied accusations that he promised visiting Washington officials concessions on the beef issue in return for a resumption of talks on a bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.


Updated : 2021-06-24 18:24 GMT+08:00