Taipei, July 11 (CNA) The Department of Health (DOH) said Wednesday it will establish ractopamine residue standards once the Legislature passes the proposed amendments to the country's food safety act at the end of this month.
Lawmakers are expected to decide later this month whether to allow imports of American beef containing residues of the livestock leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine.
In an extraordinary session July 24-27, the Legislature is scheduled to discuss the amendments to Act Governing Food Sanitation, after which the DOH will consider adopting international standards for the drug, Deputy Health Minister Hsiao Mei-ling said.
The ractopamine standards agreed on recently by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the United Nations food safety body, are 10 parts per billion (ppb) in cattle and pig muscle and fat tissue, 40 ppb in liver and 90 ppb in kidneys, Hsiao noted.
However, the health department will establish a residue standard that also takes into consideration the eating habits of Taiwanese and will ask experts to review the proposals, Hsiao added.
Meanwhile, Kuomintang caucus whip Hsu Yao-chang called on legislators across the political spectrum to use the Codex standards as the basis for amending the act and to pass the amendments during the extraordinary session.
Hsu said that standards on ractopamine residues can be set by means of administrative decree, but a supplementary resolution would be required to issue separate permits for the importation of beef and pork, as the Cabinet previously proposed on March 5.
The amendment bill also proposes mandatory labeling of the origins of beef, a measure that can be enforced among restaurants, fast-food franchises, and sellers of beef, according to Tsai Shu-chen, a section chief at the Food and Drug Administration.
(By Tang Hsiao-tien and C.J. Lin)