Fri, Jun 08, 2012 - Page 3 News List

More people support beef imports: poll

CONDITIONAL:The results of a poll this week showed that 54.5 percent of respondents were in favor of importing beef containing ractopamine — if it adheres to four principles

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Public support for conditionally allowing imports of US beef containing the leanness-enhancing feed additive ractopamine has increased by 11.5 percentage points from three months ago, a government poll showed yesterday.

The support was for beef being imported under four conditions.

The public disapproval rate for importing beef containing ractopamine declined by 9.9 percentage points, according to the poll.

The government has geared up its efforts to win support for its “four principles” guiding the use of ractopamine, ahead of a vote scheduled for Tuesday on the President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) policy to establish the allowable maximum residue levels for the feed additive in beef.

The use of ractopamine is currently allowed in 27 countries.

The Research, Development and Evaluation Commission polled 1,082 adults by telephone on Monday and Tuesday to gauge the public’s response to the plan to determine acceptable maximum residue levels of ractopamine in beef imports, to differentiate between the safety standards for beef and pork products, to require mandatory labeling of beef products, and to maintain the ban on imports of beef offal from the US.

The survey showed 54.5 percent of respondents supported the plan, up from 43 percent in the previous poll conducted in March.

On the other hand, 38.5 percent of respondents opposed lifting the ban, compared with 48.4 percent in March.

On a question of whether the country should refer to the food safety standards adopted in developed countries to establish maximum residue levels for beef imports and intensify border inspections to block beef imports containing excessive traces of the additive, 64.5 percent of respondents supported these options, while 26.8 percent were opposed to them and 8.7 percent did not have an opinion.

The poll showed that 61.2 percent of respondents supported lifting the ban on US beef imports containing ractopamine residues and maintaining the ban on imports of pork with ractopamine residues, in light of local eating habits and the interests of the domestic swine industry, while 26.9 percent of respondents opposed it and 11.9 percent had no opinion.

A total of 79.3 percent of respondents said they supported the requirement that beef products sold in supermarkets, convenience stores and restaurants carry country-of-origin labeling and other necessary information, while 15.8 percent opposed the rule and 4.9 percent did not have an opinion.

The poll found that 90 percent of respondents supported maintaining a ban that prohibits imports of US beef offal, spinal cords, skulls and ground beef, with 5.6 percent opposed to maintaining the ban, while 4.9 percent did not have an opinion on the matter.

According to the survey, 78.3 percent of respondents supported the government’s plan to regularly conduct on-site inspections in the US and to suspend beef imports once a violation of safety standards occurs, while 14.4 percent opposed the plan and 4.4 percent did not have an opinion.

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.98 percentage points.

Separately, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) told a press conference in the legislature yesterday that the US government has expressed discontent with the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) for referring to US beef containing residues of ractopamine as “poisoned beef.”

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