Taiwan yesterday lifted a ban on beef imports from Canada, effective immediately.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the decision to resume Canadian beef imports was made after prudent assessment which led the agency to believe that risks from eating beef imported from Canada are low.
The agency said that Canada has established a food management mechanism which is trustworthy and is able to minimize risks to consumers who eat Canadian beef.
Taiwan banned imports of Canadian beef products in February last year following confirmation of cases of mad cow disease in Alberta.
FDA Director-General Chiang Yu-mei (姜郁美) said the agency had been assessing the possibility of lifting the ban since September last year.
Chiang said that in November last year the agency sent a delegation to Canada to check whether beef products were safe.
The delegation’s report pointed to an “ok” for Canadian beef imports and then called a meeting in March to consult with food experts on the matter, she said.
The experts who attended the meeting agreed that as long as Taiwan tightens monitoring of beef imports from Canada, the risks from eating Canadian beef are expected to be controlled, she said.
After inter-ministerial discussions, the Ministry of Economic Affairs on Wednesday informed the FDA of a consensus to lift the ban, she added.
FDA Food Safety Division Director Pan Chih-kuan (潘志寬) said the government has issued some principles to ensure the safety of beef imports from Canada.
First, imports of beef should come from cows whose health has been guaranteed by Canadian government-certified veterinarians, without any concerns that the cows have been exposed to mad cow disease, Pan said.
The cows should be less than 30 months old and skulls, bones, brains, eyes and visceral organs cannot be imported, he said, adding that ground beef cannot be imported either.
Pan said that the government would tighten its screening of all of beef imports.
Pan said that Canadian beef only accounted for 0.7 percent of Taiwan’s total beef imports, adding that between 2012 and last year, beef imports from Canada totaled about 2,700 tonnes.
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