In the latest move to assuage public concern over the safety of meat products containing ractopamine, the government yesterday said that it would provide care for any person “poisoned” by the livestock feed additive and seek compensation from companies on their behalf.
The government will shoulder all legal responsibility if there are any medically confirmed cases of consumers being poisoned from eating US meat products containing ractopamine within a safety level set by the government, Department of Health (DOH) Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) said.
Presidential Office spokesperson Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) added that the government would restore the ban on ractopamine in imported meat products should there be sufficient evidence that the products pose health risks to human beings.
Chiu made the pledge at a press conference called by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) as the government struggles to push through an amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) in the face of an opposition boycott and before the legislature goes into recess on Friday.
The amendment, if passed, would allow imports of beef products, except offal, containing an acceptable level of ractopamine residue.
KMT caucus whip Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) said the party would demand that resolutions on those two pledges be included in the amendment in order to better protect consumers.
Food and Drug Administration Director-General Kang Jaw-jou (康照洲) told the press conference that the National Health Research Institute, a DOH affiliate, would conduct a study on the long-term effects on human health of eating beef products containing ractopamine.
The pledges were ostensibly in response to criticism of the government’s endorsement of the US’ contention that beef containing ractopamine is safe to eat because there have been no reports of any disease being linked to its consumption.
The critics, including civic groups, consumer groups and medical experts, have long cast doubt on the US’ stance because of the absence of any epidemiological survey on the long-term effects of human consumption of beef containing ractopamine.
Chiu reiterated the government’s belief that meat containing ractopamine residue is safe.
“For more than 10 years, hundreds of millions of people in 27 countries have eaten beef containing traces of ractopamine residue, but there has been no report of adverse reactions or of ractopamine poisoning in humans,” he said.