The Cabinet will soon submit two provisions relating to leanness-enhancing drugs to the legislature for review, Government Information Office Minister Philip Yang (楊永明) said yesterday.
The Cabinet is scheduled to discuss and endorse a package of draft amendments to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) at its weekly meeting today.
The package, initiated by the Department of Health (DOH), contains nearly 60 provisions, but only two of them — related to the animal feed additive ractopamine — would be immediately sent to the Legislative Yuan for deliberation and approval, Yang said.
“The Executive Yuan will do so out of respect for a consensus reached between the ruling and opposition legislative caucuses over the US beef import row,” he said.
The consensus was reached on Tuesday after opposition lawmakers again blocked Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) from taking part in a scheduled hearing that day over the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government’s decision ease a ban on US beef imports containing ractopamine residues. The boycott followed a similar move on Friday.
Yang said the DOH’s proposal does not specifically target the leanness-enhancing drug issue, but is aimed at crafting a comprehensive system to ensure food safety.
“The DOH has been preparing for a major overhaul of our food sanitation regulating system after the discovery of the illegal use of plasticizers by some food processors last year,” Yang said, adding that the revised law is designed to plug all loopholes in the nation’s food safety controls.
Legislators from both the ruling and opposition parties have presented contending draft versions for food safety amendments on the legislative floor for deliberation, most of which call for “zero content” of leanness-enhancing drugs in meat imported into Taiwan.
Yang said the Cabinet has decided to send the two DOH-drafted provisions concerning the ractopamine row to the legislature soon to speed up settlement of the contentious issue.
The remaining articles of the department-drafted package will be referred to the legislature at a later date, he added.
Yang added that the draft provisions are the same as those the DOH had suggested to the legislature on March 21, which stipulate that meat products from home and abroad should not contain residue of leanness-enhancing drugs that exceeds permissible levels set by the central government agency in charge of food sanitation issues.