Health officials assured the public yesterday that US pork contaminated by a banned veterinary drug had not entered the market.
Bureau of Food Sanitation Director-General Cheng Hui-wen (鄭慧文) confirmed that two shipments of US pork imported by K&K Foods, weighing 1.3 tonnes and 23 tonnes respectively, were found to contain ractopamine residue last Wednesday while they were awaiting customs clearance.
The residue amounted to 0.15 mg/kg and 0.32 mg/kg respectively, he said.
A second test conducted on Monday confirmed the results and the Department of Health (DOH) immediately ordered the shipments be denied entry, Cheng said.
He dismissed People First Party (PFP) Legislator Lin Hui-kuan's (林惠官) accusation of a cover-up as "exaggerated."
"The test results only came in on Monday ... the legislator called me less than 24 hours later to confirm the results," Cheng said.
The pork shipments were only tested for ractopamine last week after domestic pork producers complained to the DOH that some tainted pork products might have reached the market.
Earlier yesterday, the PFP caucus blasted the department for"concealing" the test results and demanded the resignation of those officials responsible if they failed to explain what it called their "dereliction of duty."
Lin told a press conference that the health department had been pressured by the US not to reveal the problem.
"The American Institute in Taiwan [AIT] had expressed concern over the matter," he said, without elaborating.
Lin rejected the DOH's claim that the tainted pork hadn't reached the market, saying K&K Foods had sold some of the pork to a fast-food chain.
"It has been three months since poisonous pork was imported," he said, criticizing the US for exporting the viscera and other internal organs of pigs, which he said Americans don't like to eat, cheaply to Taiwan.
Cheng also denied that the AIT had pressured the health department to keep the results of the tests quiet.
"Their representative came to learn more about the situation," Cheng said. "They were unaware that the substance has yet to be regulated [by the DOH], and is considered a banned substance by the Council of Agriculture [COA]. They are working to communicate the fact to meat merchants in the US who want to sell their products to Taiwan."
Cheng said the council banned ractopamine last October.
"We will step up inspections both for domestically produced pork and imported pork as soon as possible," he said.
Imported pork found to contain ractopamine will be turned away at the port of entry while domestically produced pork will be destroyed and producers fined between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000, he said.
"Ractopamine is a legal food additive in Thailand, the Philippines, Australia and the US," he said.
Cheng said some meat importers had asked the COA to relax its restrictions to permit a low level of ractopamine residue in meat, but the council had not yet agreed.
Deputy Minister of Health Wang Hsiu-hung (王秀紅) said health officials would meet with the council soon to discuss setting an upper limit for ractopamine residue.
McDonald's Restaurants (Taiwan) Co yesterday assured consumers that its pork products were safe and said it would adopt stricter standards in examining its importers' supplies.
The company confirmed that K&K Foods was one of its suppliers but said the imports found to contain the banned substance had been sent back by K&K at customs and had not entered the market.
"The meat products we use all conform to Taiwan's CAS and the US' Food and Drug Administration standards. McDonald's always uses an additional set of examination methods to double check foodstuff safety," said Jessica Pan (
Burger King and MOS Burger said the pork they use comes from domestic farms.
Additional reporting by Jackie Lin
A public health expert yesterday warned that too many people are meeting in small groups in coffee shops and restaurants without keeping a proper distance from one another, as he urged the government to loosen the criteria for testing young Taiwanese returning from abroad for COVID-19. People need to keep a social distance of at least 2m, National Taiwan University (NTU) College of Public Health dean Chan Chang-chuan (詹長權) said as the college presented its seventh weekly report on COVID-19 at a morning news conference. More than 300,000 confirmed cases of the virus have been reported in more than three-quarters of all
TWEET CONFIRMED: The US’ Morgan Ortagus backed up Taiwan, saying China only admitted that human-to-human transmission was possible as late as Jan. 20 Taiwan warned the WHO and China about possible human-to-human transmission of the new coronavirus at the end of last year, but the global health body did not make it public, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. Department of International Organizations Director-General Bob Chen (陳龍錦) made the remark at a news briefing in Taipei, when asked about statements made by US Department of State spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus. “Dec. 31— that’s the same day Taiwan first tried to warn WHO of human-human transmission. Chinese authorities meanwhile silenced doctors and refused to admit human-human transmission until Jan. 20, with catastrophic consequences,” Ortagus wrote on
MORE CASES EXPECTED: Many young Taiwanese would be returning home over the next two weeks, as schools in many nations closed, the health minister said Twenty-six new COVID-19 cases were confirmed yesterday, including five clusters, and all but one were imported, bringing Taiwan’s total number to 195, as border controls and home quarantine measures prove their effectiveness, the head of the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said. Twelve of the new cases were in people tested at airports upon their return, 11 were in people under home quarantine and two were people who tested positive after seeking medical treatment, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said at its daily news conference. “The new domestic case is a woman who lives with
ON THE LOOKOUT: A Lockheed EP-3 reconnaissance plane was yesterday seen flying southwest of Kaohsiung, according to Twitter account ‘Aircraft Spots’ A Twitter account that tracks military aircraft movements has indicated an increase in US military activity near Taiwan, coinciding with an increase in Chinese military activity in the area. Planes from the US Seventh Fleet have been sighted frequently above the South China Sea in the past several days, and a US Navy EP-3 reconnaissance plane was seen flying close to Taiwanese airspace southwest of Kaohsiung yesterday, according to posts by the Twitter account Aircraft Spots. The EP-3 was seen circling above the same area, Aircraft Spots said, adding that other planes from the fleet were seen in the past few days