The Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) yesterday accused the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) of attempting to hoodwink Taiwanese by adopting a two-pronged strategy to deal with the controversial issue of ractopamine in US meats.
KMT legislators have said they are seeking to amend legislation to set limits or impose an outright ban on the presence of the feed additive in meat, but the executive branch, led by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), has been working behind the scenes to open the Taiwanese market to US meat products containing the drug, DPP Legislator Pan Men-an (潘孟安) told a press conference.
Washington has been pressuring Taipei to change its zero-tolerance policy on ractopamine by delaying the resumption of bilateral talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement.
The Ma administration might be trying to lift the ban on US pork containing ractopamine to pave the way for future relaxation on the US beef import ban, Pan said.
The UN Codex Alimentarius Commission has not settled on any decision in terms of the maximum residue level for ractopamine, Pan said, adding that Taiwan should at least wait until the commission makes a decision before lifting the ban.
The commission, established by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the WHO in 1963 to develop international food standards, considered adopting a maximum residue level of 10 parts per billion for ractopamine last year, but later decided to delay the adoption until July.
The KMT used the same tactic in a US beef controversy in 2009, saying at the time it would incorporate the government’s preventive measures into legislation, DPP Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) said.
However, the KMT legislators failed to do so as the Ma administration announced the measures by an executive order.
US beef ribs sold at two hypermarkets in Taipei were pulled off shelves last week after they were found to contain residues of the lean-meat-enhancing drug.
Amid speculation that the government might ease its ractopamine ban, local cattle and pig farmers and the Consumers’ Foundation have threatened to stage a protest in Taipei later this month.