Tue, Feb 17, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Guarantees of US beef byproduct safety demanded

SPIT IT OUT:An activist said experts and officials who think it is safe to eat US beef byproducts should declare it openly in the interests of clarity

Staff writer, with CNA

As the government prepares to open the nation’s doors to US beef byproducts, the Consumers’ Foundation demanded that policymaking officials and experts in favor of such imports endorse their safety for human consumption.

The law says that “relevant risks exist,” lawyer and Consumers’ Foundation honorary chairman Hsieh Tien-jen (謝天仁) said.

If the relevant officials and experts, invited by the government to assess the risk of allowing imports of bone marrow, blood vessels, head meat, cheek meat, throats and tallow from cattle from the US all think there is no health risk at all, they should endorse the products’ safety, Hsieh said.

“They should face society in person and address precisely what they mean about safety,” Hsieh said. “Also, they should take full responsibility and guarantee that the products are absolutely problem-free.”

He made the demand after Minister of Economic Affairs John Deng (鄧振中) said earlier in the day that the government would open the market to the US beef products once the respective governing bodies complete the administrative procedures for the proposed imports and then provide notice to the public of its move.

mad cow disease

According to the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法), the import of internal cow organs from countries that have reported cases of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease, has been banned for the past decade.

The act states that the nation bans skulls, brains, eyes, spinal marrow, ground beef, viscera and other related products even from non-epidemic areas if those areas have had BSE or Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease cases in the past 10 years.

Hsieh said the incubation period for BSE is long, and noted that the US has been listed as a country with negligible BSE risk for less than 10 years.

The Consumers’ Foundation has criticized the government over moves to allow imports of several kinds of US beef parts by labeling them as “not internal organs.”

On Friday last week, it pointed out that the Council of Agriculture said late last month that the US is still affected by BSE, and that according to the World Organization for Animal Health, its status as an infected region would only be removed if there are no new cases for seven years.

The foundation is worried that people consuming beef, milk and dairy products made from infected beef would be at higher risk of contracting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, the fatal neurological disease for which there is no cure and is believed to be caused by consuming BSE-infected cow products.

The foundation argues that while the government mulls opening the six beef part categories, it should allow consumers to take part in the policymaking process.

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