A team of inspectors led by a senior official at the Council of Agriculture, Watson Sun (宋華聰), is embarking on a two-week trip to the US today to inspect the safety of US beef products, following the discovery of a new case of mad cow disease in California late last month, the government announced yesterday.
Taiwan requested permission to send a team of inspectors to clarify questions surrounding the mad cow disease case in California.
Council of Agriculture Deputy Minister Wang Cheng-teng (王政騰) said details of the itinerary were still under discussion with the US after the government decided to advance a routine annual inspection, initially planned for July, to an earlier date to assuage public concerns over the safety of US beef.
Taiwan wishes to conduct on-site inspections of eight of the US slaughterhouses that rank in the top 10 in terms of the quantity of meat they exported to Taiwan during the first four months of this year, as well as a grass-fed beef company, covering 78.01 percent of US beef supplies to Taiwan, Wang said.
The inspection team expects to visit the slaughterhouses in various states that rely heavily on cattle farming — California, Nebraska, Kansas, Texas, Colorado and Utah — and to visit the US Department of Agriculture and its National Veterinary Services Laboratories to check the documents concerning the latest case of mad cow disease. The team also wishes to visit a feed factory and cattle farms, he said.
The inspection team consists of Sun, Peng Ming-hsing (彭明興), deputy director of the Meat Inspection Division at the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, Yang Ping-cheng (楊平政), director of the government--affiliated Animal Technology Institute Taiwan, and Wu Tzung-hsi (吳宗熹) and Chou Hsiu-kuan (周秀冠), both officials with the Food and Drug Administration.
Responding to reporters’ questions as to why civic representatives were not invited on the trip, Wang said: “The nature of the visit makes it seem inappropriate,” as the inspection tour is more like an official state-to-state visit.
He also justified the background and qualifications of the delegation members, saying that most of them have been on previous trips and “will spare no effort in safeguarding the nation’s health.”
Additional reporting by CNA