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Consumer group pushes for tougher ractopamine standards than Codex

2012/07/06 23:19:09

Taipei, July 6 (CNA) Taiwan's government should set maximum residue levels for the controversial veterinary drug ractopamine in meat at more restrictive levels than those adopted by an international food safety body, the Consumers' Foundation said Friday.

Members of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) narrowly approved on Thursday maximum ractapomine residue levels in beef and pork of 10 parts per billion (ppb) for muscle cuts, 40 ppb for livers and 90 ppb for kidneys.

But the Consumers' Foundation urged the government to apply a 10 ppb standard for livers and kidneys of both cows and sows, or even adopt a stricter zero tolerance policy, since they are commonly consumed in Taiwan.

Foundation Chairwoman Joann Su said the World Trade Organization's agreement on how governments apply food safety and animal and plant health measures, known as SPS measures, allows governments to reassess food risks involved based on the country's situation.

In Taiwan, Su said, women eat the kidneys and livers of pigs or cows after giving birth. If the government cannot set a zero detection standard, it should at least adopt a 10 ppb standard so it will not affect people's health.

She also emphasized that the government needed to fully implement its pledge made on March 5 to separate permits for pork and beef imports, which will make it possible to apply stricter standards to pork.

Another recommendation made by the consumer group was to improve the labeling of beef and require labels to indicate whether or not the product contains ractopamine. At present, only the country of origin is required to be shown on meat packaging.

Su worried, however, that the penalty for mislabeling products or unclear labels ranges between NT$20,000 (US$667.72) and NT$200,000, which she said was too low for a clear labeling policy to be effectively implemented.

(By Yang Su-min and C.J. Lin)