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Banned additive found in Taiwan pork more expensive than gold

Only one business in country licensed to import cimbuterol

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Government food safety official Sheu Fuu says Wednesday that the banned food additive cimbuterol is far too expensive to be cost-effective. 

Government food safety official Sheu Fuu says Wednesday that the banned food additive cimbuterol is far too expensive to be cost-effective.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Pork consumers do not face any risk from cimbuterol because the banned food additive is more expensive than gold or diamonds, the government said Wednesday (Feb. 7).

Separate tests found the substance in pork slices from Taiwan Sugar Corporation at levels of less than 0.002 parts per million (ppm), the authorities said. The food safety case has, however, triggered a war of words between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Taichung City Government, where the residue was first detected.

At a news conference Wednesday, the FDA said using cimbuterol was not efficient since it cost more than NT$1 million (US$31,900) per gram, CNA reported. Taiwan counted only one importer, and the company brought in less than half a gram during all of 2023, according to Sheu Fuu (許輔), head of the Cabinet’s food safety bureau.

The only place in Taiwan where the additive is being used is at laboratories, he added. Any use by hog farmers or by other sectors of the food and meat processing sector would not be cost-effective due to the high price of cimbuterol.