Strict Controls Imposed On US Beef

TAIWAN - Taiwan will adopt strict measures based on existing laws to ensure that imports of US beef products such as tongues and testicles are safe for consumption.
calendar icon 20 April 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

Taiwan's agreement last year to lift its ban on US bone-in beef and certain other beef products, including ground beef and offal, sparked a huge public outcry.

The ban had been imposed in the first place in 2003 due to fears of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), or mad cow disease in US beef.

Under public pressure, the KMT-controlled Legislative Yuan amended the Act Governing Good Sanitation in January to deny access to Taiwan, of beef products - including ground beef, offal and other beef parts such as skulls, brains, eyes and spines - from countries with documented BSE cases over the past decades.

In response to lawmakers' questions at the Legislative Yuan, Minister of Economic Affairs Shih Yenshiang said the measures will be implemented based on "three controls and five certifications."

Controls on beef imports are set at the source, at borders and in markets, reports China Daily .

Certifications refer to verifying documents, checking that shipments are marked with detailed product information, opening a high percentage of cartons of imported beef for inspection and conducting food safety tests to identify suspected problem products immediately.

Asked about the US government's announcement that beef exports to Taiwan will include tongues, testicles and tails, Mr Yenshiang cited Department of Health data, explaining that these products are not categorised as "internal organs" that are not allowed to be exported to Taiwan according to a Taiwan-US protocol signed last year.

The Bureau of Foreign Trade will decide whether or not to allow the import of such US beef products based on the existing standard, the Minister said.

The US Department of Agriculture announced on April 16 that exports of beef products to Taiwan will include bone-in meat, hanging tenders, tongues, penises, testicles, tails, tendons, and diaphragms derived from cattle less than 30 months of age slaughtered on or after April 1.

The beef parts are technically allowed to be exported into Taiwan under the category of bone-in beef, which does not require special permission and is subject only to random checks, according to ministry officials.

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