Tue, Jun 28, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Retailers voluntarily removing US beef from shelves amid mad cow fears

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

From left to right, TSU legislators David Huang, Lai Shin-yuan, Yin Ling-ying, Huang Wei-che and Tsenng Tsan-teng yesterday ring the bell outside the Taipei District Prosecutor's Office. The lawmakers accuse DOH Minister Hou Sheng-mou of mismanagement and ignoring potential threats to public health by allowing the nation's current US beef stock to be sold despite the ``mad cow threat.''

PHOTO: CHEN TSE-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

Not waiting for orders from the government to do so, some retail chains such as the Far Eastern Geant (愛買吉安) have began voluntarily removing US beef products off their shelves.

The move comes as opposition politicians and the government squabble over whether or not US beef is safe after that country confirmed another case of made cow disease on Friday.

"As long as there are safety concerns, we don't think there should be any exceptions," said Brenda Yen (嚴必文), public relations manager for the Taiwan's third largest hypermarket operator with 13 stores around the nation.

Citing their high quality-control standards, the decision, implemented yesterday, will cost Far Eastern Geant millions of NT dollars by halting sales of its two tonnes of US beef in stock, Yen said.

Some local supermarkets and those in Shin Kong Mitsukoshi Department Store (新光三越), Breeze Center (微風廣場) and Pacific Sogo Department Store (太平洋崇光百貨) have echoed the Consumers' Foundation's (消基會) call to halt the sale of US beef.

However, other major retailers, including Carrefour, RT-Mart (大潤發), Tesco and Costco, have claimed they will abide by the government regulations and continue to sell their stock of US beef. Removing beef products will lead to immense financial losses given US beef's dominance in the market.

Costco, the nation's largest importer of US beef, has sold an average of 22.5 tonnes of US beef, or NT$10 million (US$320,000), per week since the import ban as lifted on April 16.

US beef sales at some retailers last weekend more than doubled as consumers stockpile the meat for fear that beefs supplies will dwindle and prices will rise.

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