Wed, Jan 18, 2006 - Page 2 News List

DOH recommends lifting ban on imports of US beef


The government, following in the steps of Japan, South Korea and Singapore, said yesterday it is ready to lift the ban on US beef.

"After reviews by experts, it is agreed that US beef no longer has health concerns, and we suggest the government resume importing beef from US calves under 30 months old, with bones and offal removed," Department of Health (DOH) official Hsiao Tung-ming (蕭東銘) said on the Broadcasting Corp of China (BCC) station.

"It has been nearly half a year since we reimposed the ban on US beef. Experts think that theoretically we can resume imports of US beef," Hsiao said.

"After we have lifted the ban, if mad cow disease breaks out in the US, there is no need to impose the ban again because the previous two outbreaks have shown that isolated cases of mad cow disease do not affect the safety of US beef, but the US must give us the report on the outbreak within a month," Hsiao told BCC.

Hsiao said his department had reached a consensus on resuming US beef imports with other ministries and would submit the report to the Cabinet in one or two days for approval.

But it could take some time for the approval to be received as the Cabinet is expected to resign next Monday, he said. The new Cabinet would have to make the final decision.

The government banned US beef imports in December 2003 following reports of the first US case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, but lifted the ban on April 16 last year.

The ban on US beef imports was reinstated on June 25 last year after a second case of mad cow disease was confirmed.

Taiwan bought 292 tonnes of US beef and beef products in 2003, and was the sixth-largest importer of US beef before it imposed the ban in late 2003.

Many countries banned US beef imports in 2003. Under US pressure, Japan partially lifted the ban on Dec. 12 last year.

South Korea said last Friday that it would partially lift the ban in late March. Singapore said on Tuesday that it would lift the ban within a month.

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