Former I-Mei Foods Co (義美食品公司) employee Peter Lee (李世勛) yesterday confirmed to the media that he was the source of recently released test results that suggested some local hog farmers have been using banned leanness-enhancing feed additives. Lee said he apologized for all the trouble he had caused and that he hoped farmers had not been hurt by the fallout.
Lee said he provided the test results to Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alex Tsai (蔡正元) after he came across them during a business meeting with I-Mei president Kao Chih-ming (高志明).
Lee said he released the data without telling Kao, who had had some pork products tested at his company’s food safety laboratory.
Lee, who previously worked for I-Mei, now serves as a consultant at the See the Future Group.
He said he saved a copy of the test results because he thought it might be “valuable” and that he gave a copy to Tsai to use as reference material in his legislative work. Lee added that he hoped the food safety issue concerning the illegal use of leanness-enhancing feed additives would continue to be addressed.
“I deeply regret and am in pain” about what has happened after the test results were released, Lee said. “I never expected all this.”
Lee said he told Tsai that the test results were for his reference only and were not to be made public, adding that he was also sorry for all the trouble he had caused for Kao.
The tests conducted by I-Mei found traces of salbutamol and cimaterol in some products, but none of the items from the same batch of products sent to a -government-certified laboratory for testing failed inspections.
To defuse speculation that the government had released the results to reduce pig farmers’ opposition to US beef imports containing ractopamine residue, KMT Legislator Lo Shu-lei (羅淑蕾) on Friday revealed Lee as the source.
Kao disagreed with the idea of providing the test results to lawmakers, Lee added.
To dispel rumors of a government plot, Lee said he had served as a consultant with the Taipei City Government during President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) tenure as mayor from 2000 to 2004, but that he had not interacted with Ma or his team since 2004.
KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) yesterday said he believed that Ma did not know Lee because “there were about 200 to 300 people serving as consultants in 14 different groups in the city government at that time.”
Apparently unconvinced, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) yesterday said that “the chances were high that the Presidential Office was behind the whole plot against pan-green I-Mei Foods Co.”
According to the DPP lawmaker, during Ma’s first campaign for the Taipei mayoral election in 1998, Lee took part in drafting one of Ma’s then-campaign platforms called the “Cyber City” initiative.
Following Ma’s successful bid, Lee was later appointed as a network consultant for the Taipei City Government, Tsai Huang-liang said.
Tsai Huang-liang added that on Monday, when Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) and official from concerned ministries addressed a report on the US beef issue at the KMT Central Committee meeting, an order from a “high-ranking government official” allegedly requested that concerned parties handle the US beef issue in accordance with strategies employed during election campaigns.
“Then, just one day after the alleged order, the pork test results from I-Mei Foods were made public on the front page by the [Chinese-language] United Daily News, with KMT Legislator Alex Tsai also revealing the results on the same day,” Tsai Huang-liang said.