Taiwan reveals MRLs for ractopamine in US pork

Limits vary according to animal part, taking into account local dietary habits, risk evaluations, international law

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A traditional taiwan pork butcher.  

A traditional taiwan pork butcher.   (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) on Saturday (Sept. 5) revealed the maximum residue limits (MRLs) for ractopamine in U.S. pork and offal, eight days after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced the nation would broaden market access to American pork and beef.

The executive order scraps import restrictions on U.S. beef from cattle over 30 months old and on U.S. pork containing ractopamine. It is set to take effect from Jan. 1, 2021.

The health ministry has established MRLs for the controversial feed additive used to promote leanness in U.S. pork products. The regulated limits vary according to the animal part and are based on local dietary habits, professional risk evaluations, as well as international health standards.

According to Saturday's announcement, the MRLs for U.S. pork, which includes skin and fat, is 0.01 ppm; 0.04 ppm for the kidney; 0.04 ppm for the liver; 0.01 ppm for other edible parts including stomach, intestine, heart, lung, tongue, brain, and blood.

Health minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) explained the kidney is subject to a higher health standard than the 0.09 ppm in FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius, citing greater consumption in postpartum meals after childbirth or a miscarriage.

Chen also emphasized the country still bans specified risk materials (SRMs) for American beef imports, which include the skull, brain, eyes, spinal cord, ground beef and beef offal. However, the green light has been given to beef from cattle over 30 months old.

Meanwhile, the official announced a comprehensive food labeling system to be implemented from the beginning of next year. Under the new rule, all retail outlets and restaurants are mandated to label the country of origin for food products containing pork, including Taiwanese braised pork rice bowl (lu rou fan, 滷肉飯), pork meatball soup, and pork jerky, to safeguard the health of consumers.