Taiwan is expected to accept United States beef containing ractopamine once it revises its food safety law during an extraordinary session at the end of July.
The ban on meat from the U.S. containing the feed additive ractopamine has hampered trade agreements between the two countries. Beginning in 2011, Taiwan seized U.S. beef containing the drug, further delaying bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks which have been stagnant since 2007.
Focus Taiwan reports Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou told Jonathan Huang, president of World Taiwanese Chambers of Commerce, the legislature should resolve the issue in an extraordinary session starting July 24. Ma expects the decision to allow U.S. beef under set levels of ractopamine will advance TIFA negotiations and lead to Taiwan’s membership of a Pacific Rim trade pact within the next eight years.
Ma says food safety concerns have delayed a decision on the issue. Civic groups and politicians protested the government’s decision to conditionally lift a ban on ractopamine on March 5. Ma expects opposition to lifting the ban will ease since Codex set ractopamine standards earlier this month which the Department of Health (DOH) will use to set residue standards. Codex allows for 10 parts per billion (ppb) in cattle and swine muscle and fat tissue and 40 ppb in liver and 90 ppb in kidneys.
According to Taiwan Today a safety analysis by the government found the following conclusions:
• No major epidemiology studies on the effects of ingesting trace levels of the drug have been conducted
• No reports of negative health issues linked with eating meat containing ractopamine have been reported; and
• 80 percent of the drug is metabolized within 24 hours of consumption.
The government is expected to allow imported beef under maximum residue levels set by the DOH, however pork imports with the residue will be banned due to dietary habits of Taiwan’s consumers.