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Taiwan's central government bats down local bans on US pork

Local government rules on ractopamine residue would create chaos

Local governments cannot impose ractopamine bans of their own, the central government ruled Thursday. 

Local governments cannot impose ractopamine bans of their own, the central government ruled Thursday.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Local governments cannot draw up their own limits on the ractopamine content of pork and beef, as these would clash with national executive orders allowing the import of meat products, the central government ruled Thursday (Dec. 31).

The decision comes just one day before the legalization of imported American pork and beef from cattle older than 30 months treated with the leanness drug. Several cities and counties, especially those controlled by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party, recently drew up rules allowing “zero levels” of ractopamine, in effect banning all meat products containing any residue.

The Democratic Progressive Party-led central government’s decision to lift the ban on Jan. 1 has been praised as paving the way for a bilateral trade agreement with the U.S. Amid public concern, the government has taken a tough attitude toward labeling, vowing fines of up to NT$4 million (US$143,000) for those who provide misleading information about the origin of meat products.

At a news conference on Thursday, Minister Without Portfolio Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) emphasized that food safety standards should be the same nationwide, but he said he had noticed that 17 local governments had devised rules that are different from each other and from the national standard. Such a situation would lead to chaos, according to the minister, CNA reported.

Under the new rules by the central government, restaurants, food stalls, and lunch box makers all need to label their ingredients with the place of origin.

The government will release data on a daily basis on the quantities of imported pork and on locally slaughtered hogs with the aim of informing the public about the latest developments. Addressing the concerns of hog farmers, the authorities will set up a NT$10-billion fund to mitigate the impact of competition from imports.