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Contaminated Pork Has Not Entered Taiwan Market: DOH

by 5m Editor
19 July 2007, at 11:57am

TAIPEI - Department of Health (DOH) officials assured the public Wednesday that U.S. pork contaminated by the banned veterinary drug clenbuterol has not entered the Taiwan market.

Cheng Hui-wen, head of the DOH Bureau of Food Safety, confirmed that two shipments of American pork imported by K & K Foods Inc., weighing 1.3 metric tons and 23 metric tons, respectively, were detected to contain clenbuterol residue of 0.15 mg/kg and 0.32 mg/kg, respectively, July 11 when they were awaiting customs clearance.

After a second test conducted July 16 confirmed the results, the DOH immediately ordered that the shipments be denied access to the country, Cheng said, dismissing as "exaggerated" a claim by opposition legislators that the DOH tried to cover up the matter.

Cheng said that although Taiwan prohibits the use of clenbuterol in livestock and permits no residue of the drug in meat, the drug is legally used in some countries, such as the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia and Malaysia, to boost the metabolism of livestock and speed up the growth of the animals.

While the United States has set the upper limit for clenbuterol residue at 50 mg/kg, Japan has set the limit at 10 mg/kg, Cheng noted.

On the effect of clenbuterol on human health, Cheng said people might suffer heart palpitations if they consume more than 67 mg of clenbuterol per day.

According to Cheng, some domestic meat importers have requested that the Council of Agriculture (COA) relax the current restrictions to permit a low level of clenbuterol residue in meat, but the COA has yet to accept the request.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of Health Wang Hsiu-hung said the DOH will meet with the COA soon to discuss the possibility of setting an upper limit for clenbuterol residue in meat.

Earlier that day, a group of opposition People First Party legislators accused the government of failing to fulfill its responsibility of protecting the health of the country's citizens for repeatedly "appeasing" the United States by allowing the import of American meat "whose safety is in doubt."

The legislators asked the DOH to tighten controls concerning frozen meat imports from the United States and start an investigation immediately to check if any imported pork with clenbuterol, in addition to the two shipments, has made its way to restaurants in the country.

5m Editor