Tue, Nov 03, 2009 - Page 1 News List

Government to obstruct US ground beef

WHERE’S THE BEEF? Under pressure from the Chinese Nationalist Party legislative caucus, the government decided to use administrative means to block some products

By Ko Shu-ling and Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTERS

The department said it would also push a proposed amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) to require all restaurants specify the source of the beef in their dishes.

The government has been criticized by legislators across party lines and civic organizations after it announced its decision to further open the market to US beef products.

Cabinet Spokesman Su Jun-pin (蘇俊賓) said that the government would impose a strict gate-keeping mechanism on beef products imported from the US.

“We will have a double gate keeping [mechanism]: first for risky organs and second for the age [of the cows],” Su told reporters on his way to the legislature’s Education and Culture Committee meeting.

Su said the Executive Yuan would not object to a referendum proposed by a number of civic groups to demand renegotiation with the US concerning imports of beef products as long as the referendum was launched through due procedure.

He urged the public to be confident that the government would safeguard health.

“We will review import applications, while associations of [beef importers] will regulate their own members,” he said.

In related news, former minister of health Steve Chan (詹啟賢) was evasive yesterday when responding to questions about the safety of US beef, saying he hoped the government would do a good job in ensuring the quality of the products.

Chan, president of Kuo Kwang Biotechnology Co and former president of the Chi Mei Medical Center in Tainan, said he was in no position to comment on the administration’s decision to relax restrictions on US beef, but added that he did eat beef.

He said he would eat US beef “as long as it passes the government’s strict examination.”

He said he “hoped” the government would examine the products stringently to guarantee the quality of the products and ease public concerns.

When asked whether he would eat ground beef or intestines, Chan said he was not sure, adding that he would not reject it if the government conducts careful inspections. As to whether the government could do that, he was not certain.

Meanwhile, a YouTube video poking fun at the administration’s decision to drop restrictions on 30-month-old bone-in beef sparked a public frenzy.

The 160-minute film, entitled Are You Ready to Eat US Beef?, called on the administration to stop telling “monstrous lies” and to launch new negotiations with Washington.

Toward the end of the video, Ma said relaunching the negotiations would undermine the country’s credibility. Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長) was dubbed to say “eat two bull’s testicles” and Ma was dubbed to say “give me two bowls of beef noodle soup with mixed intestines. It’s no more dangerous than riding the MRT.”

Also See: EDITORIAL : A plebiscite on a petty beef?

Also See: Legislators assail minister on US beef

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