The Council of Agriculture stated on Dec.29 that the annual consumption of pork in Taiwan is seven times higher than that of beef. Moreover, the majority of consumers also prefer offal (internal organs), thus giving rise to the general concern about the issue of pork with ractopamine. As the pig farming industry has the highest agricultural production value in Taiwan, in 2014, 8137 pig farms generating a production value of around NT$76.8 billion, the government has paid much attention to the impact of pork with ractopamine that might have on food safety and pig farming industry. The authorities insist on dealing with beef and pork separately and will not allow the import of pork with ractopamine.
The COA stated that every country maintains its own regulations on the Maximum Residue Limit (MRL) of ractopamine, such as ractopamine is banned in China, Russia, and the European Union. Japan allows the import of meat with ractopamine, while prohibits its use domestically. Korea not only imports pork and beef with ractopamine, it also allows the use of such animal drug in local production. The different approaches taken by Japan and Korea may be due to the difference of annual pork consumption per capita, which is 15kg and 24kg respectively. Since Taiwan presents a higher volume of 34kg, it takes a different approach and implements its suitable regulation. Besides, major beef consumption countries such as New Zealand and Australia only allow the import of pork with ractopamine and not beef with ractopamine. The United States though allows ractopamine to be used in pork and beef production, its MRL in beef is remains lower (30 ppb) than that in pork (50 ppb) as beef is the main meat consumed. This shows that when regulating food safety standards each country will take into consideration of its consumption pattern, and Taiwan makes no exception.
In 2012, the Legislative Yuan agreed to lift the ban on beef with ractopamine under the following principles: “Safe tolerance, Separation of beef and pork, Mandatory labelling, Exclusion of viscera”. It would be unwise to ignore professional assessment and careful examination just for the sake of joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), for the issue might trigger serious food safety crisis and put Taiwan’s entire animal industry in jeopardy.
The COA explained that there is more than 70% of ractopamine-free pork production in the world. In order to export its pork to countries that ban the use of ractopamine, the United States has adopted an export verification program exclusively for producing ractopamine-free pork. As a matter of fact, for the past 3 years (2012-2014) Taiwan has been one of the most important pork markets of the United States and imported an average of 7141 tons ractopamine-free pork worth of US$17.38 million each year. Statistics show that Taiwanese consumers concern about ractopamine issue and encourage the US meat exporters to produce ractopamine-free pork and export them to Taiwan.
The COA reiterated that the right attitude to engage in pork ractopamine issue is to pay respect to professional food safety assessment, meanwhile taking into consideration of the development of pig farming industry and farmers’ interests. The government will continue to communicate with the United States. In order to ensure food safety in Taiwan and protect pig farmers’ interests, our government will not lift the ban on pork with ractopamine.