Tue, Mar 13, 2012 - Page 1 News List

DPP’s officials line up against ractopamine

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Workers carry US beef with traces of ractopamine to a furnace in downtown Taipei yesterday. A total of 7,490kg of beef was destroyed.

Photo: Mandy Cheng, AFP

The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday reaffirmed its zero-tolerance policy on the controversial animal feed additive ractopamine with a statement and an amendment proposing that local governments be given more power to regulate food safety.

Mayors and county commissioners of six DPP-governed cities and counties met in Greater Kaohsiung and afterwards issued a joint statement calling for “three actions and four demands,” and asked President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to reconsider lifting the ban on ractopamine residue in beef.

The six were Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊), who is also the DPP’s interim chairperson, Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德), Yilan County Commissioner Lin Tsung-hsien (林聰賢), Yunlin County Commissioner Su Chih-fen (蘇治芬), Chiayi County Commissioner Helen Chang (張花冠) and Pingtung County Commissioner Tsai Chi-hung (曹啟鴻).

Executive members of the DPP legislative caucus — convener Ker Chien-ming (柯建銘), chief secretary Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) and director-general Pan Men-an (潘孟安) — also attended the meeting.

Chen Chu has promised the party would tackle the controversy on two fronts: the local governments it controls and at the legislature.

The statement said the party condemns Ma’s pending decision to conditionally allow US beef imports that contain ractopamine, because it ignores the opinions of experts and the public, and jeopardizes public health.

The six officials called for a non-partisan coalition to safeguard public health and asked the legislature to maintain the zero-tolerance policy on ractopamine and pass amendments to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) as soon as possible.

They said the central government should also maintain strict inspections at the border and in local markets and consider the expansion of compensation for local industries that suffer from the relaxation of the regulation.

The DPP will also strive for the implementation of strict examinations for the drug, the promotion of self-regulation by local governments and the promotion of product certification.

In the legislature, DPP Legislator Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀) told a press conference that he was proposing an amendment to the Local Government Act (地方制度法) that would give local governments more power to regulate food safety.

The amendment, if passed, would empower local governments to enact stricter regulations to inspect and deal with products which contain beta-agonist drugs or substances that could result in mad cow disease (which has been linked to Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease in humans), Chen said.

“If the central government refuses or could not do anything to protect public health, local governments should be authorized to do the best they could,” said Chuang Ruei-hsiung (莊瑞雄), director of the DPP’s Taipei City headquarters.

Chen will also establish an “anti-ractopamine alliance” with local councilors and DPP officials in Taipei, New Taipei City (新北市), Keelung and Yilan County.

In a related development, a total of 7,490kg of US beef was destroyed at an incinerator in suburban Taipei yesterday, marking the first time US beef was incinerated in Taiwan because of ractopamine.

The beef was imported by the Taipei-based Shuh Sen Co (樹森開發) and was seized from the company’s warehouses in Keelung and Greater Kaohsiung.

“All the beef destroyed on Monday was seized in February and March and one batch had the highest content of ractopamine at 2.9 parts per billion,” said Chen Li-chi (陳立奇), director of Taipei’s Department of Health food and drug division, who witnessed the incineration.

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