Taiwan is to lift a 14-year ban on beef imports from Japan, Sweden and the Netherlands, Ministry of Health and Welfare officials said on Friday.
The ministry’s Food and Drug Agency (FDA) on July 17 posted a draft of regulations governing beef imports from the three nations, adding that in the 60-day notification period, which ended on Friday, the agency collected public opinions regarding time, evaluation procedures and requirements for the planned lifting of the ban.
According to the draft, beef imported from the three nations should not include the brain, head, eyes, trigeminal nerve, spine, spinal cord or the dorsal root ganglion — all body parts that are susceptible to bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease.
Photo: Wang Yi-hung, Taipei Times
Beef cattle have to be raised for more than 100 days in their country of origin, while Japanese and Swedish cattle cannot be more than 30 months old and Dutch cattle cannot be more than 12 months old, the draft added.
FDA section chief Wu Tsung-hsi (吳宗熹) said these import standards are the same as those set for US and Canadian beef imports, adding that importers’ certification and lists of qualified processing factories are also to be collected.
Wu said the agency would announce formal import regulations after a review and the lifting of the ban is expected to take effect pending promulgation by the Executive Yuan.
About 94 percent of the nation’s beef is imported from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Paraguay, government data showed.
US beef imports total 109,522 tonnes per year and Australia imports 43,099 tonnes of beef per year, while Taiwan produces about 6,800 tonnes of beef annually, the data showed.
Many restaurants said they welcome the lifting of the ban, especially on Japanese wagyu, which is popular among gourmets because of its even fat distribution and taste.
FIH Regent Group (FIH, 晶華國際酒店集團) general manager Simon Wu (吳偉正) said wagyu is a lure for its customers and it will be added to the menu when it is available.
Hotel Royal Group (老爺大酒店集團) chief executive Winston Shen (沈方正) said the group would introduce the product based on each hotel’s needs.
Kanpai Group (乾杯集團) also expressed its intention to introduce the product to its restaurants.
Additional reporting by Peng Wang-hsin
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