Health officials assured the public yesterday that US pork contaminated by a banned veterinary drug had not entered the market.
Bureau of Food Sanitation Director-General Cheng Hui-wen (鄭慧文) confirmed that two shipments of US pork imported by K&K Foods, weighing 1.3 tonnes and 23 tonnes respectively, were found to contain ractopamine residue last Wednesday while they were awaiting customs clearance.
The residue amounted to 0.15 mg/kg and 0.32 mg/kg respectively, he said.
A second test conducted on Monday confirmed the results and the Department of Health (DOH) immediately ordered the shipments be denied entry, Cheng said.
He dismissed People First Party (PFP) Legislator Lin Hui-kuan's (林惠官) accusation of a cover-up as "exaggerated."
"The test results only came in on Monday ... the legislator called me less than 24 hours later to confirm the results," Cheng said.
The pork shipments were only tested for ractopamine last week after domestic pork producers complained to the DOH that some tainted pork products might have reached the market.
Earlier yesterday, the PFP caucus blasted the department for"concealing" the test results and demanded the resignation of those officials responsible if they failed to explain what it called their "dereliction of duty."
Lin told a press conference that the health department had been pressured by the US not to reveal the problem.
"The American Institute in Taiwan [AIT] had expressed concern over the matter," he said, without elaborating.
Lin rejected the DOH's claim that the tainted pork hadn't reached the market, saying K&K Foods had sold some of the pork to a fast-food chain.
"It has been three months since poisonous pork was imported," he said, criticizing the US for exporting the viscera and other internal organs of pigs, which he said Americans don't like to eat, cheaply to Taiwan.
Cheng also denied that the AIT had pressured the health department to keep the results of the tests quiet.
"Their representative came to learn more about the situation," Cheng said. "They were unaware that the substance has yet to be regulated [by the DOH], and is considered a banned substance by the Council of Agriculture [COA]. They are working to communicate the fact to meat merchants in the US who want to sell their products to Taiwan."
Cheng said the council banned ractopamine last October.
"We will step up inspections both for domestically produced pork and imported pork as soon as possible," he said.
Imported pork found to contain ractopamine will be turned away at the port of entry while domestically produced pork will be destroyed and producers fined between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000, he said.
"Ractopamine is a legal food additive in Thailand, the Philippines, Australia and the US," he said.
Cheng said some meat importers had asked the COA to relax its restrictions to permit a low level of ractopamine residue in meat, but the council had not yet agreed.
Deputy Minister of Health Wang Hsiu-hung (王秀紅) said health officials would meet with the council soon to discuss setting an upper limit for ractopamine residue.
McDonald's Restaurants (Taiwan) Co yesterday assured consumers that its pork products were safe and said it would adopt stricter standards in examining its importers' supplies.
The company confirmed that K&K Foods was one of its suppliers but said the imports found to contain the banned substance had been sent back by K&K at customs and had not entered the market.
"The meat products we use all conform to Taiwan's CAS and the US' Food and Drug Administration standards. McDonald's always uses an additional set of examination methods to double check foodstuff safety," said Jessica Pan (
Burger King and MOS Burger said the pork they use comes from domestic farms.
Additional reporting by Jackie Lin
BRIBERY CASE: President Tsai Ing-wen accepted Su Jia-chyuan’s resignation as he said that he deeply regretted causing trouble for the president due to the investigation Presidential Office Secretary-General Su Jia-chyuan (蘇嘉全) yesterday resigned after his nephew, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Su Chen-ching (蘇震清), was implicated in a bribery case related to a dispute over the ownership of Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨). “I resigned from the post so that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would not be bothered by it anymore, and the prosecutors can investigate the case in a fair and just manner. I thank President Tsai once again for supporting me. May the country continue to prosper under her leadership,” Su Jia-chyuan said in a statement. The Presidential Office said that Tsai has accepted
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South