Taipei City’s Department of Health yesterday conducted spot checks of fast food chains and major steakhouses to determine if any were serving US beef containing residue of the feed additive ractopamine.
It said it would also examine more beef from a major importer whose beef was found to contain the feed additive.
The importer, Taipei-based Shusen Corp, is a major beef importer that provides beef to several steakhouse chains, including My Home Steak and Noble Family Steakhouse.
An inspection conducted by the Greater Kaohsiung Government on Wednesday found local branches of the two chains using beef containing ractopamine residue.
Taipei City’s Department of Health said it had fined Shusen NT$60,000 (US$2,000) for importing and selling meat products containing the drug, and would make sure that the beef imported by the company contained no ractopamine before allowing it to sell the products to restaurants.
The department conducted spot checks of outlets of McDonald’s, Burger King, My Home Steak, Nobel Family Steakhouse and Bullfight Steakhouse.
A departmental division chief, Chen Chi-cheng (陳奇正), said McDonald’s used Australian beef, while Burger King imports its beef from Panama.
The department will announce the test results of beef samples from the steakhouse chains in a week.
In November 2009, then-premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) pledged to conduct regular inspections at meat-processing factories, at border entry points and in markets, amid a dispute over the partial lifting of a ban on US beef imports.
Local importers who import products containing ractopamine residues are subject to a fine of between NT$60,000 and NT$6 million.
Chen said the department started inspections on imported beef products last month and has conducted spot checks at 11 major hypermarkets and supermarkets. The inspection found beef containing ractopamine at Neihu branches of RT Mart and Carrefour, and the two hypermarkets immediately pulled all US beef products off the shelves, he said.
Regular inspections will continue to protect the rights of consumers unless the central government changed the nation’s zero-tolerance policy on beef containing ractopamine, he added.
Meanwhile, a group of academics yesterday urged the government to conduct more risk analysis on ractopmaine. The call came one day before the government meets again to discuss whether a ban on the drug should be lifted.
Additional reporting by CNA