The public should not to be misled by inaccuracies in a Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) video about ractopamine-fed pork, as government agencies would work together to strictly enforce food safety rules, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said on Saturday.
The party on Thursday released a video in which KMT mayors and commissioners called on the public to join a protest in Taipei yesterday against the scheduled easing of restrictions on Jan. 1 on imports of pork products containing traces of ractopamine or beef from cattle aged 30 months or older.
Hsinchu County Commissioner Yang Wen-ke (楊文科) said in the video that 26 nations would be able to export ractopamine-fed pork to Taiwan under the measure set to take effect on Jan. 1.
Pork and pork products are allowed to be imported from 13 countries: the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Sweden, Finland and Austria, but only four of them — the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand — permit the use of the leanness-enhancing additive, the council said.
Canada and Australia do not export ractopamine-fed pork, while New Zealand barely exports any pork to Taiwan, COA Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said last month.
Ever since Taiwan joined the WTO in 2002, the US has been allowed to export ractopamine-free pork and beef to Taiwan, the COA said.
In 2012, the government eased restrictions on ractopamine in US beef, leading to a nearly threefold increase in consumption, the council said.
About 64,000 tonnes of US beef was imported last year, and of the 6.41kg of beef consumed per person annually in Taiwan, about 45.9 percent, or 3kg, was from the US, it said.
Pork imports from the US only account for about 1.2 percent of the Taiwan market, since about 90 percent is produced domestically, it said.
Although the average person consumed 37.3kg of pork last year, only about 490g of that was imported from the US, it added.
The council said it would more strictly oversee food safety after import restrictions are eased, especially for ingredients in school lunches.
From Jan. 1, the incentive for school lunch providers to use certified local ingredients is to increase to NT$6 from NT$3.5 per meal, it said.
The Ministry of Education has also revised its standard school lunch contract to require providers to exclusively use certified local meat and eggs, including for processed foods, the council said.
The government has called on processed food producers to clearly label the origin of pork and pork products, it added.
From Jan. 1, the origin of pork and pork products must be clearly labeled on raw meat, processed foods, packaged and bulk products, drinks, set meals and other products, the council said, citing the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation (食品安全衛生管理法).
Inspections would be increased to encourage producers to correctly label their products, and penalize those who fail to meet standards, it added.
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