Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Pasuya Yao (姚文智) yesterday urged catering businesses to test the meat they use to determine whether they contain the leanness-enhancing feed additive ractopamine, while accusing the government of being incapable of handling the nation’s latest food safety scare involving the drug used by US cattle ranchers.
Yao said President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) administration has failed to provide consumers with a safe dining environment and that it is time for people to rely on themselves.
Last month, the government vowed to take steps to prevent imported meat containing traces of ractopamine and other banned substances from entering the domestic market. Despite the government’s efforts, there have been reports of restaurants selling meat from cows and pigs fed with ractopamine.
The current situation shows there are loopholes in the local food safety system, Yao said at a press conference, accompanied by caterers.
“What we are promoting conforms with our conscience,” said a Taoyuan caterer surnamed Liu (劉), who encouraged her colleagues to voluntarily screen raw meat to gain the trust of consumers.
The move could boost the number of customers because they know a second screening, following inspections by the government when meat products are imported, would mean better protection, Liu said.
Wu Kuo-chih, an official from Taiwan Advance Bio-Pharm Inc, said there are many ways to check whether a meat sample contains with ractopamine.
The price of the service ranges from NT$100 to NT$12,000, depending on the accuracy of the results, Wu said.
“The most cost-effective method for caterers concerned with ractopamine would be the rapid screening kit, which yields 90 percent accuracy in five to 15 minutes,” he said.
The kit is not sanctioned by the Department of Health as an authoritative testing approach.
Food and Drug Administration Director-General Kang Jaw-jou (康照洲) has previously said that “as testing errors may occur, we don’t encourage individuals to use a rapid screening kit or send meat samples to uncertified laboratories.”
There are two certified laboratories in Taiwan that offer ractopamine screening services.