TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Presidential Office on Saturday (Aug. 29) defended its decision to lift a ban on the import of pork from the United States against criticism from local opposition leaders by pointing out international standards on the use of ractopamine had evolved.
The potential presence of residues of the leanness drug in U.S. beef and pork had been the major barrier to ending the ban, while some local county and city leaders, most of them members of the Kuomintang (KMT) opposition party, said they would continue a “zero ractopamine” policy and fine offenders.
The politicians wondered why President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) had opposed then-KMT President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) allowing beef with ractopamine residues to be imported in 2012, but was supporting a much wider opening to pork from Jan. 1, 2021.
The Presidential Office replied by pointing out that international standards had been issued by the Codex Alimentarius commission based on scientific research, and that the government had taken necessary measures to guarantee food safety, CNA reported.
Having allowed the import of beef with ractopamine residues for several years now, Taiwan had not seen any problems with consumption of the meat, the Presidential Office added.
Hog farmers did not have to fear the import of U.S. pork as the campaign against foot and mouth disease and against African swine fever had been successful, while the government was setting up a NT$10 billion (US$340 million) fund to help the sector, a spokesman said.
Earlier Saturday, the governments of Taichung City and Yunlin County, both ruled by the KMT, had announced that according to legal regulations, they would continue to issue fines as long as any level of ractopamine was found in meat products.
Health and Welfare Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that having “one country, many systems” on meat imports was not a positive phenomenon. It would be better if local government enforced correct labeling, the minister said.
Members of the U.S. Congress have welcomed President Tsai’s opening, as it is expected to benefit moves toward a trade agreement between the two countries.