Customs agents have seized a shipment of beef imported from the US for containing excessive levels of ractopamine residue, the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday.
The shipment of 1,179.8kg of boneless beef from National Beef Packing Co was tested on May 14 and found to have a ractopamine content of 0.02 parts per million (ppm), higher than the maximum permissible level of 0.01ppm, the agency said.
Confiscated beef is either returned to its country of origin or destroyed, according to agency regulations.
It was the first shipment of US beef in nearly three years that has exceeded the permissible ractopamine level, the agency said.
The beef’s importer, New Taipei City-based Yu-Ho Foods Co Ltd (裕賀食品), has been flagged for more frequent inspections as a result, agency division chief Chen Ching-yu (陳慶裕) said.
Although Taiwan has allowed imports of US beef containing trace amounts of ractopamine since 2012, the leanness-enhancing drug remains controversial, and its use is still prohibited among local farmers.
Taiwan on Jan. 1 also allowed the importation of US pork containing limited levels of ractopamine, a move the government hopes will facilitate closer ties with the US, but which critics say creates health risks for Taiwanese.
In related news, customs agents have seized a shipment of fresh avocados imported from the US by Costco Wholesale Taiwan Ltd (台灣好市多) — the sixth such seizure in less than half a year — after they were found to contain excessive levels of cadmium, the agency said.
The shipment of 2,970kg of Index Fresh avocados from California was on May 15 found to have a cadmium content of 0.07 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg), higher than the maximum permissible level of 0.05mg/kg, it said.
Due to repeated breaches of regulations, the agency has been carrying out batch-by-batch inspections of avocados imported by Costco Taiwan since last month, and has required the company to devise a plan to resolve the issue, which it submitted last week, Chen said.
The company said the cadmium residues in the avocados might be related to external environmental factors in the region where they are grown, Chen said.
The agency ordered the company to improve its supplier management procedures and warned that it could ban the retailer from importing US avocados if the breaches continue, he said.
The imported beef and avocados were among 17 products listed in the agency’s weekly report on imported foods confiscated for safety violations.
Other products seized included a 37,902kg shipment of black sesame seeds from India, 1,152kg of blueberries from the US and 150kg of strawberries from Japan, all for excessive levels of pesticides, the agency said.
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