The government yesterday set in motion a series of policy briefings on its plan to relax a ban on US beef containing traces of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine, by staging events to explain the policy and answer questions from the public.
A total of seven policy briefings were held this weekend in Keelung City, Greater Tainan, Taoyuan County, Greater Kao-hsiung and Taipei City, and more will be held nationwide over the next two weekends in a bid to assuage public concerns over the safety of US beef with ractopamine residues, Executive Yuan Secretary-General Lin Yi-shih (林益世) said.
Vice Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺), Deputy Secretary-General of the Executive Yuan Steven Chen (陳士魁) and officials from the Council of Agriculture, the Department of Health and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, participated in the briefings yesterday, Lin said, adding that Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) was also scheduled to take part.
“People worry about whether it is safe to eat US beef because of a lack of understanding of ractopamine, as well as the government’s policy, based on four principles, for conditionally allowing imports of US beef. That’s why we have to explain the issues to them directly,” Lin said.
The four principles to be adopted in relaxing the ban are: establishing a safe level for ractopamine residues for beef imports; differentiating standards for beef and pork imports; requiring labeling of beef products; and maintaining a ban on imports of US beef offal.
Attending the briefing held in a community center in Greater Tainan’s North District were Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Tainan chapter director Cheng Ching-jen (鄭慶珍), and Greater Tainan City councilors Hsieh Lung-chie (謝龍介) and Lu Kun-fu (盧崑福), along with other party officials and elected local representatives. An estimated 400 to 500 people attended the event.
Lin said the government expected to attract an audience of about 200 to 300 people for every briefing, especially opinion leaders, and expressed the wish that the attendees could exert their influence among their associates to solicit more public support for the policy.