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Premier reaffirms pork safety, says recent controversy isolated case

02/23/2024 06:46 PM
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Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (second right) explains the Taisugar pork product issues at a legislative session attended by Premier Chen Chien-jen (second left), Minister of Health and Welfare Hsueh Jui-yuan (left) and Acting Minister of Agriculture Chen Junne-jih in Taipei Friday. CNA photo Feb. 23, 2024
Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (second right) explains the Taisugar pork product issues at a legislative session attended by Premier Chen Chien-jen (second left), Minister of Health and Welfare Hsueh Jui-yuan (left) and Acting Minister of Agriculture Chen Junne-jih in Taipei Friday. CNA photo Feb. 23, 2024

Taipei, Feb. 23 (CNA) Premier Chen Chien-jen (陳建仁) reaffirmed on Friday at the Legislature that Taiwan's pork was safe, calling the discovery of a banned additive in a Taiwan Sugar Corp. (Taisugar) pork product an isolated case.

In a special food safety report requested by lawmakers across party lines, Chen said the preliminary findings of an investigation into the incident argue against the likelihood of systemic pork contamination with banned beta-agonists, in this case cimbuterol.

To ease public concerns, Chen said, experts from both the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Health and Welfare have been examining the case, with the results scheduled to be released next month.

In the future, the government will also increase random pork checks for the leanness-enhancing additive, doubling the frequency from 2,000 to 4,000 per year, he said.

The issue surfaced when the Taichung Health Bureau reported on Feb. 2 that a sample of state-run Taisugar's "Pork Boston Butt, Sliced" product obtained from a store in Taichung tested positive for cimbuterol during a test conducted on Jan. 15.

A total of 0.002 parts per million (ppm) of cimbuterol were detected in the test. The presence of cimbuterol was later confirmed in a repeat test done by the Taiwan Food and Drug Administration.

Premier Chen Chien-jen (right) hands over two packs of Taisugar pork products given to him by a lawmaker to Acting Minister of Agriculture Chen Junne-jih during a legislative session in Taipei Friday. CNA photo Feb. 23, 2024
Premier Chen Chien-jen (right) hands over two packs of Taisugar pork products given to him by a lawmaker to Acting Minister of Agriculture Chen Junne-jih during a legislative session in Taipei Friday. CNA photo Feb. 23, 2024

According to Chen on Friday, the meat, sourced from Taisugar's pigs, slaughtered, processed and packaged by Sings Kout Trading Co., was part of an 819-kilogram batch of 2,730 packages of meat sold under the Taisugar name.

The government has conducted additional tests on various pork products across Taiwan, and as of Feb. 21, a total of 885 pork products had tested negative for cimbuterol, Chen said.

As to the circulation of cimbuterol in Taiwan, Chen said, a total of four Taiwanese companies have imported the chemical from 2022 to the present, mostly for laboratory use, and distributed to 12 local government agencies and 12 private testing institutions.

(By Kuo Chien-shen, Lin Ching-yin and Lee Hsin-Yin)

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