Mon, Aug 06, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Ractopamine use leads to push for harsher penalties

CRACKDOWN Ractopamine is used by farmers in other countries to promote the growth of lean pork, but local officials are determined to stamp out its use in Taiwan

STAFF WRITER , WITH CNA

Offenses against the Veterinary Drugs Control Act (動物用藥品管理法) will be subject to harsher penalties if a package of proposed amendments is passed by the legislature, an animal health official said on Saturday.

Yeh Ying (葉塋), deputy director of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, said the proposed amendments to increase the penalties for the use, manufacture or distribution of ractopamine would be sent to the legislature for approval in the next session.

Even though the US and other countries allow ractopamine to be used as a feed additive to boost the growth of lean meat in pigs, the Council of Agriculture has no plan to lift its ban on the drug, Yeh said.

Yeh said the bureau had already tightened enforcement of the law, noting that it began requiring livestock and poultry inspectors to do hair tests for ractopamine residue as of July 1.

The bureau has also asked the courts to adopt a stricter attitude toward the use, import, manufacture and marketing of banned drugs.

Yeh's comments come in the wake of a scandal about traces of ractopamine found in two shipments of imported US pork and some samples of local pork and goose meat. Police and customs officers seized a large amount of raw materials used for production of ractopamine in raids around the country last week.

At present those who feed ractopamine to pigs or poultry can be fined between NT$6,000 and NT$30,000. The proposed amendments would raise the fines to between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000. In addition, the bureau wants the prison terms for importers and manufacturers of the banned drug increased from no more than three years to between three years and seven years, plus a fine of NT$900,000, while the penalty for dealers or distributors would be raised from a maximum of two years to a maximum of three years plus a fine of NT$900,000.

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