Tuesday, April 13

Taiwan lifts ban on imports of treated US beef

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TAIPEI: Taiwan yesterday lifted a ban on imports of US beef containing a controversial additive, in a move likely to facilitate free trade talks with Washington.

The 113-seat parliament, controlled by the ruling Kuomintang party, agreed to amend a law that has barred imports of beef containing any residual ractopamine, a growth drug used in animal feed to promote lean meat.

The beef issue is emotionally charged in Taiwan, with concern about the prospect of importing tainted beef triggering large street protests and sit-ins in front of parliament.

While the public is mainly concerned about the health consequences, Taiwan’s vocal and politically influential pig farmers are afraid it will be a first step towards opening the market to US pork containing the drug.

The new law tolerates beef imports containing some small residues of ractopamine, without specifying the acceptable level. Officials from the Department of Health said they will set a standard at a later date. — AFP