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Codex's ractopamine decision not to change Taiwan's U.S. beef policy

2012/07/05 23:10

Taipei, July 5 (CNA) The latest vote by the Codex Alimentarius Commission to allow certain levels of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine in meat will not change Taiwan's policy to conditionally lift the ban on U.S. beef imports with the additive, an official said Thursday.

Member states of the global food safety body voted 69-67 earlier in the day that it is safe to allow certain levels of ractopamine in cattle and pork tissues, including muscle, liver and kidney.

The result of the Codex meeting "will only be used as reference," Cabinet spokesman Hu Yu-wei said.

It will not influence the government's decision to conditionally ease the ban on American beef imports, he added.

In March, the Cabinet proposed to ease the ban on U.S. beef containing traces of ractopamine on the principles of "specifying a safe level of ractopamine, issuing separate permits for beef and pork imports, mandating the labeling of beef imports and excluding imports of beef organs."

Shortly after the Codex meeting, the Cabinet issued a statement to reaffirm its policy on the U.S. beef issue.

In the statement, Premier Sean Chen reiterated that the lifting of the ban on ractopamine will only apply to beef imports.

The government will refer to the Codex standards in setting up a certain level of ractopamine in beef imports in the future, Chen added.

Meanwhile, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) also said it is happy to learn the news of the Codex vote.

"As we've said all along, we hope the people make their decisions based on scientific evidence," said Sheila Paskman, the AIT's Chief of Public Diplomacy Section.

She added that she hopes that will help Taiwan in reaching its decision on the issue. The AIT is the de facto U.S. embassy in the absence of official ties.

Whether to lift the ban of ractopamine on beef imports has been hotly debated in Taiwan. The Legislature is set to vote on the issue during an extraordinary session July 25-27.

The premier said he hoped the Legislature will pass amendments to the Act Governing Food Sanitation that will open Taiwan's door to U.S. beef containing ractopamine.

Codex was established by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Health Organization in 1963 to set international food standards and codes of practice that contribute to the safety of the food industry.

(By Elaine Hou)ENDITEM/npw