There is currently no need for Taiwan to revise its ban against a residue of animal feed additives being used in drugs to promote leanness in farm animals, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Wu-hsiung said Monday.
The authorities in Taiwan recently detected small amounts of residue from a banned muscle-growth drug in beef imported from the United States. The discovery raised public concerns on the island despite the U.S. not restricting the use of the drug, commercially known as Paylean.
Paylean contains ractopamine, one of four animal-use drugs along with salbutamol, terbu-taline and clenbuterol, that are banned in Taiwan.
It was the first time banned drugs had been detected in U.S. beef since Taiwan re-opened its doors to American beef in 2007, after suspending imports of the product over mad-cow disease worries.
"Taiwan's existing law prohibits the use of any leanness drugs, " Chen said, noting that the law applies to both imported and locally-produced meat products.
Speaking of the plan by the United Nations-linked group -- Codex Alimentarius Commission -- to amend its regulations on the permitted amount of leanness drug residue on meat products, the minister said Taiwan will not review its leanness drug ban until Codex makes changes.
Codex was established in 1963 by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WTO) to develop food standards and guidelines under the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme.
The main purposes of this program are protecting the health of the consumers and ensuring fair trade practices in the food trade, and promoting coordination of all food standards work undertaken by international governmental and non-governmental organizations.
According to Chen, under WTO regulations, all its members must follow Codex guidelines. Those unwilling to follow them have to present a risk evaluation and convince other countries to accept it.
If no agreement is then reached, disputes must be resolved through a controversy-settlement mechanism, Chen said.
His office is closely monitoring Codex's move that would possibly lead to a change to regulations on the residue level of animal feed additives, he added.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Yaung Chih-liang repeated his office's insistence of keeping its ban against the use of leanness drugs. He said his office will try to coordinate with the United States, asking the latter not to sell beef containing the residue of leanness drugs to Taiwan.