Taipei, July 31 (CNA) Food safety and nutrition experts from the Cabinet-level Department of Health (DOH) have reached an agreement to cap the allowable residue level of the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine at 10 parts per billion (ppb), a department official said Tuesday.
The experts decided the limit -- equivalent to 10 micrograms of ractopamine residue per kilogram of beef -- at a meeting held by the DOH earlier in the day, said Kang Jaw-jou, director-general of the Food and Drug Administration under the DOH.
The experts based their decision on a maximum safe daily intake of 1 mcg for an adult, which would mean that ractopamine residue in a Taiwanese adult that consumed an average of 12.85 grams of beef per day would be as little as 0.5 percent of 1 mcg, Kang noted.
Such an intake is "acceptable" in terms of potential harm to the health of a human body, he said.
The DOH's meeting to decide the maximum allowable level of ractopamine residue in beef came after the Legislative Yuan passed amendments to a food safety act last week to pave the way for beef imports containing the leanness-enhancing drug.
As soon as the amendments take effect, the DOH will formally communicate the allowable level to the public and make sure the standard is strictly followed, Kang said.
Moreover, efforts will be enhanced to check beef imports at the border and beef being sold in domestic markets, he noted.
According to the DOH, since health authorities began efforts March 20 to stop imported beef containing ractopamine residue from entering Taiwan's markets, inspectors have detected ractopamine in six out of 490 batches of imported beef checked, as of July 29.
Five batches have been shipped back to where they were came from, while the sixth batch has been destroyed, the DOH said.
(By Chen Ching-fang and Elizabeth Hsu)