Ahead of the opening of the country to imported beef containing the livestock feed additive ractopamine, the government yesterday pledged to provide consumers with information about country of origin on beef products on the market.
Beef and products with beef ingredients that will be subject to mandatory country of origin labeling include packaged food sold in night markets, at convenience stores, food stands, fast-food chains, supermarkets and restaurants, Executive Yuan spokesperson Hu Yu-wei (胡幼偉) told a press conference.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director-General Kang Jaw-jou (康照洲) yesterday briefed the Cabinet on food safety management measures to ensure levels of ractopamine in beef do not exceed 10 parts per billion (ppb).
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Wednesday announced the recently revised Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) that mandated the relaxing of the ban on imports of beef with ractopamine, a policy that has been in place since 2006.
Following the proclamation, the Department of Health (DOH) must set up permissible residue levels for ractopamine within 18 days after the Council of Agriculture revises the list of banned feed additives, while the mandatory labeling rule becomes effective seven days later for bulk food retailers and 15 days later for packaged-food providers, Hu said.
Once the new policy is implemented, local government food safety inspectors will be required to present results of inspections to the FDA on daily basis, while the FDA has to compile the data and make it public regularly, Hu said.
Under the mandatory labeling rule, producers of beef foodstuffs must have country of origin information on packaging, while food stands selling beef noodles and beef dumplings, and restaurants serving steaks have to display posters to provide the information.
According to the COA, before the Codex Alimentarius Commission, an international food safety body, approved standards for the use of ractopamine in pigs and cattle early last month, it was legally used as a cattle feed additive in the US, Canada, Mexico and Indonesia.
Taiwan moved to partially lift the ban to address the US’ concern over its beef imports to the country and in the hopes that the resolution of the trade dispute could lead to resumption of bilateral talks under the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) platform.
Yet the ractopamine ban remains on imports of beef offal, ground beef and other beef parts considered to pose a high risk of transmitting bovine spongiform encephalopathy, known as mad cow disease, as well as on pork, to protect local industry.