Mon, Aug 20, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Partial ractopamine ban mulled

DOUBLE STANDARD Government Information Office Minister Shieh Jhy-wey said that a ban on the additive in local pork, but not imported products, was possible

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

The government is considering keeping a ban on the pig feed additive ractopamine for local pig farmers, while allowing the importation of pork containing low levels of the substance, Government Information Office Minister Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) said yesterday.

"This is one option under consideration. However, no decision has been made, as there are some details we have to take into account," Shieh said.

Shieh made the remarks in response to a report by the Chinese-language China Times yesterday, which said the government would keep the ban only for local pork after announcing on Wednesday that the ban on ractopamine would soon be lifted. The announcement last week drew angry protests from local breeders.

Shieh said yesterday that the government would decide whether to keep the ban after considering the influence of ractopamine on human health, the interests of pig farmers, international regulations, as well as standards in other countries.

Shieh said Taiwan must also consider new WHO ractopamine regulations that go into effect next month.

The government will try to find an appropriate compromise on the issue, although the final solution may not satisfy every interested party, Shieh said, adding that the public's health would be the first priority in making a decision.

The Department of Health last Tuesday said it would end the ractopamine ban for pork and beef, allowing maximum residue levels of 10 parts per billion (ppb) in muscle and fatty tissue, 40ppb in livers and 90ppb in kidneys.

It said at the time that the regulations pended a decision by the Council of Agriculture on ending the ban.

The announcement was an aboutface after officials said earlier this month that they would crack down on the use of ractopamine, and many pig farmers, as well as the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), demanded the ban be kept.

DPP Chairman Yu Shyi-kun said in a statement on Friday that the party supported those pig farmers who opposed the lifting the ban.

Meanwhile, lawmakers across party lines yesterday criticized the idea of applying different standards to local pork products and imported ones.

"It is a cunning tactic. The government is trying to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds, but I don't think it is workable," DPP Legislator Kao Chien-chih (高建智) said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) said two different standards should not be applied where food safety is concerned.

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