Taipei, April 25 (CNA) There is no correlation between beef imports from the United States and the latest case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad cow disease, reported in the U.S., a Department of Health official said Wednesday.
Information passed to the health agency earlier that day indicated that imported U.S. beef sources were not connected to a dairy cow carcass that the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed had tested positive for the disease, an official said.
The department has been in close contact with the American Institute in Taiwan since the news broke and "information keeps coming in," said Tsai Shu-chen, chief of the Food and Drug Administration's food division.
U.S. health officials were quick to give an assurance that products from the carcass had not entered the human food chain.
Taiwan will not announce further measures to tackle the issue until the government has a full understanding of the whole situation. The case is the fourth reported in the U.S. since 2003, said Minister of Agriculture Chen Bao-ji.
The dairy cow found to have the disease was over 30 months of age and cattle at that age basically are not slaughtered for meat, Chen said. Whether the case will affect Taiwan's judgement on the severity of the mad cow disease situation in the U.S. will remain to be seen, the minister added.
Taiwan and the U.S. will handle the issue through the currently available and appropriate channels in the most appropriate way, said Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman James Chang.
Meanwhile, a consumer group leader urged the government to ban all imports of U.S. beef as the influences of the case were yet clear.
The current inspection and control measures on beef imports do not include a test of prion protein, an infectious agent in mad cow disease, so they should be banned for now, said Joann Su, Consumers' Foundation chairwoman.
In addition, the public still have other concerns over U.S. beef imports, including residues of ractopamine, a banned food additive in Taiwan, Su added. She urged the government to postpone revising the food safety act that might lift the ban on ractopamine and allow more imports of U.S. beef.
(By Chen Ching-fang, Tseng Ying-yu, Ho Meng-kuei and Kendra Lin)