Taiwan making effort to allay ractopamine fears amid US pork controversy

Country’s move to allow ractopamine-laced pork imports enrages industry players, public

  3925
Pork vendors in Taiwan

Pork vendors in Taiwan (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s agriculture authorities are using every means at their disposal to assuage public concern about the safety of pork from the U.S. that could contain ractopamine, an animal feed additive that promotes leanness.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced last week the removal of the ban on imported American pork and the relaxing of beef import restrictions effective Jan. 1, 2021. Hailed as a precursor to Taiwan-U.S. free trade agreement negotiations, the move has drawn a backlash from the public and opposition lawmakers over the expected impact on the local industry as well as the potential health risks posed by the meat.

The government is contemplating adding a whistleblower clause to the existing country of origin legislation to ensure sound labeling, said Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲), Council of Agriculture (COA) minister on a radio show on the Green Peace Broadcasting Station Tuesday (Sept. 1). People who have doubts about American pork are advised to avoid products from the U.S.

The measure, which serves as an incentive to report falsified labeling, is likely to be put in place in a few months, NOWnews cited him as saying. Manufacturers caught mislabeling food products will be fined up to NT$4 million (US$136,000) in accordance with the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation.

Chen has played down the feed additive’s effects on humans, citing a 2019 safety evaluation report. There is no plan to list the level of ractopamine residue in U.S. pork products, he added.

Meanwhile, Chen has vowed to secure an additional NT$10 billion in funds to help cushion the impact of the measure on the country’s hog farmers and businesses, wrote ETToday. The NT$10 million already pledged will be used to upgrade farm facilities, improve excrement treatment and logistics management, revamp slaughterhouses, and boost exports.