TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Minister without portfolio John Deng (鄧振中) said Monday (Dec. 14) that Taiwan would have to present scientific evidence proving the health risk of ractopamine before it legally requires pork products containing the leanness-enhancing drug to be labeled.
In light of the controversy surrounding the government's lifting of restrictions on U.S. pork imports containing ractopamine, the Cabinet's Office of Trade Negotiations said on Sunday (Dec. 13) that the country cannot implement tighter rules on pork imports without a sound scientific basis. It said legally requiring ractopamine-free labels could result in discriminatory policies and potential trade retaliation from other countries.
During a press interview on Monday, Deng said the Taiwanese requirement for pigs' kidneys is already stricter than the international standards. He said the country must have good reasons if it seeks to adopt more stringent rules on other parts of the pig.
According to the World Trade Organization, governments should not implement regulations that create unnecessary technical obstacles to international trade, Deng pointed out. He said marking pork products containing globally acceptable residue levels of ractopamine would be considered an example of such an unnecessary obstacle.
The Cabinet minister stressed that although the government would stick to the current regulatory measures, businesses are welcome to put ractopamine-free labels on their products to ensure competitiveness. He said the best way to resolve the ractopamine problem is through the combined efforts of the government and the public, reported CNA.
Although ractopamine is barred from being used in pigs in Taiwan, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced in August that the country will lift the ban against U.S. pork containing the drug beginning next year, an attempt to pave the way for a trade deal with Washington. Although some experts worldwide have warned about the potential risks of consuming meat containing ractopamine, there is no conclusive evidence supporting the claim.