Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou moved Thursday to ease a political storm over the government's decision to lift a ban on certain U.S. beef imports, saying adequate safeguards are in place to guard against mad cow disease.

Ma made the comments after more than 100 people protested outside the Cabinet building against last week's decision to remove the six-year-old ban on bone-in beef, minced beef and offal.

The demonstrators demanded that Premier Wu Dun-yi either revoke the decision or resign.

Health experts say while bone-in beef like Porterhouse steak may be harmless, minced beef and offal carry higher risks of mad cow disease.

But Ma says all the meat is safe, insisting that "the U.S. is committed to strict management at point of origin, even allowing Taiwanese veterinarians to inspect their slaughterhouses."

"The government does not import nor promote the (U.S.) beef products," he added. "Our importers ar e imposing controls and you can rest assured of the product safety. There's no need to renegotiate the issue with the U.S."

Earlier this week, several Taiwanese meat importers pledged to impose a voluntary ban on U.S. beef and at least two local governments questioned the beef decision, believed to be a Taiwanese concession aimed at restarting talks on a free trade pact with the U.S.

In 2007 talks on the deal were halted, primarily because of Taiwan's refusal to lift the bone-in-beef ban.

Before last week's decision, Taiwan allowed imports of boneless beef from the U.S. Those imports were not contentious, because they were believed to be free of any mad cow disease hazard.

In lifting the bone-in beef ban, Taiwan's Health Department said only meat products from cows aged 30 months or younger approved by certified veterinarians could be imported.

Mad cow disease is a brain-wasting disease in cattle, which in humans can cause a variant form, Creutzf eldt-Jakob Disease.

Taiwan purchased $128 million in beef products from the United States in 2008.

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