Wed, Mar 14, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Questions raised about beef origin after drugs found

Staff Writer, with CNA

Officials in Greater Tainan and Nantou are on the lookout for meat products containing residues of growth-enhancement drugs after a sample of ractopamine-tainted beef was found in Chiayi County.

The owner of the restaurant chain where the sample was taken said that it had come from New Zealand.

Health officials in Greater Tainan yesterday confirmed that the beef sample contained 1.29 parts per billion (ppb) of ractopamine.

They said the meat in question was a combination of different cuts, possibly made up of layers of beef from different sources.

The restaurant said it had bought beef from a company in Greater Kaohsiung that is supplied mainly by Shuh Sen Co (樹森開發) in Taipei, one of the major importers of US beef in Taiwan. The company has warehouses in Keelung and Greater Kaohsiung.

The issue of US beef imports containing residues of the feed additive ractopamine has stirred a storm of controversy in Taiwan in recent weeks because the government is considering relaxing the ban on the drug to increase imports of US beef.

On Monday, 7,490kg of US beef imported by Shuh Sen found to have ractopamine residue was destroyed in Taipei.

On Monday, health officials in Tainan said that a sample of another beef shipment contained 10.93ppb of ractopamine.

Also on Monday, health officials found 0.88ppb of zilpaterol, another kind of growth additive, in a sample of beef, reportedly from Australia, sold at a supermarket in Chiayi County.

In Nantou County yesterday, a sample of sliced beef was also found to contain zilpaterol. The beef, supplied by a company known as Yukuo Co (裕國冷凍), had been sold to a nationwide supermarket chain under the label “Yukuo sliced beef imported from Australia.” The company said it had delivered 3,000 packages of the sliced beef to the PXmart (全聯實業) supermarket chain store since November last year.

Nantou Health Bureau officials have started an investigation to track Yukuo’s upstream suppliers and to find out whether beef from other countries is being sold as Australian products.

As in Taiwan, the use of both zilpaterol and ractopamine is banned in beef production in Australia, according to the Australian representative office in Taipei.

Zilpaterol hydrochloride is an adrenergic agonist drug currently licensed in Mexico and South Africa as a feed additive for cattle at slaughter age.

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