Taipei, March 16 (CNA) An inter-ministerial task force established to handle the latest food safety crisis in Taiwan determined in its first meeting held Friday to tighten border inspections of beef products entering the country.
From next week, beef from companies previously discovered to have imported products containing banned leanness-enhancing drugs will be examined by customs shipment-by-shipment at a rate of 100 percent, said Vice Premier Jiang Yi-huah, who heads the task force.
Beef importers that have an intact reputation will have just 5 percent of their shipments examined, Jiang said.
He asked relevant agencies to ascertain whether the stricter measures will cause problems in relations between Taiwan and its trade partners under the framework of the World Trade Organization.
In addition, he said, violators will face tougher penalties, in addition to being "named and shamed."
Meanwhile, addressing the alleged use of banned leanness enhancers by local farmers, Jiang said the Ministry of Justice will assist the Council of Agriculture to amend the Veterinary Drugs Control Act to increase the penalties for offenders and to also mandate that their names be published.
The harsher steps came in the wake of recent discoveries of toxic leanness-enhancing drugs in some brands of imported beef, reports that some locally produced pork products have also been found to contain banned drugs, and outbreaks of a highly pathogenic strain of the H5N2 bird flu virus on chicken farms in central and southern Taiwan.
(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Deborah Kuo)