Government mulling additional ractopamine standards

The pork section of a retailer in Kaohsiung. (CNA)

TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan is considering setting limits on ractopamine residue in pork from parts of pigs that are not already covered by international standards, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) said Thursday.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) announced on Aug. 28 that Taiwan will set maximum residue level (MLR) standards for ractopamine in imported pork and ease restrictions on American beef in an attempt to pave the way for an eventual trade deal with the United States.

Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture (COA) said at the time that it will base its ractopamine standards on those set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which are 10 parts per billion of ractopamine in pork muscle and fat, 40 ppb in livers, and 90 ppb in kidneys.

At a press conference on Thursday, Deputy Health Minister Hsueh Jui-yuan (薛瑞元) was asked whether residue standards are also being considered for other pork parts, such as various organ meats, that are not covered by Codex regulations.

In response, Hsueh said the government is studying how other countries have approached the issue, and noted that some set a standard for the miscellaneous category of “other edible parts.”

“If the government ends up setting a residue standard for ‘other edible parts,’ it will enforce it. If it does not set one, the standard will be no (zero),” Hsueh said.

In preparation for the eased standards on pork imports, which will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said Thursday that he had asked the MOHW to set uniform punishment standards for vendors who fail to label or falsely label a product’s country of origin.

Su went on to defend the import policy as “based on the precondition” that Taiwanese will not suffer adverse health impacts, but said the country could also not afford to “set up barriers” that would impair its economic growth.