Praising the Codex Alimentarius Commission’s vote in favor of establishing maximum residue levels (MRLs) for ractopamine, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday urged the legislature to pass a bill that would allow imports of beef containing residues of the livestock feed additive at its extra session later this month.
“The commission’s ratification of the maximum residue levels for ractopamine is a positive message for us and proves that the administration’s position over the past four months was correct,” he said at a meeting with Guatemalan Ambassador Arturo Duarte Ortiz at the Presidential Office.
The draft MRLs proposed by the Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) were ratified at the 35th Codex Alimentarius Commission’s meeting in Rome on Thursday, setting ractopamine MRLs at 10 parts per billion (ppb) in muscle and fatty tissues, 40ppb in liver and 90ppb in kidneys of cattle and pigs.
The Ma administration applauded the approval of the latest food-safety international standard and said he hoped that the commission’s decision could help solve the deadlock in the legislature over an amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法), which would ease the ban on beef imports containing ractopamine residues.
Lawmakers failed to vote on the bill before the legislative session ended earlier last month and are meeting for an extra session from July 25 to 27 to discuss the issue.
Ma, who as Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairman has been pressing the KMT legislative caucus to pass the bill, yesterday reiterated the importance of easing restrictions on beef imports to facilitate trade and economic talks with Washington and other major trade partners. He promised to set up ractopamine MRLs in accordance with international standards and to continue to make public health a top priority.
“By allowing the import of US beef products under strict conditions, we hope to resume negotiations on the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement with the US, paving the way for the nation to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the near future and avoid Taiwan being marginalized in the ongoing regional economic integration,” he said.
As part of his pledge to prioritize food safety, Ma said the government would suspend imports of US beef products if they were proven to be damaging to public health.