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Ban on ractopamine retained for lunches in schools: MOE

TAIPEI--The Ministry of Education said yesterday it will retain a zero-tolerance policy on ractopamine residues in meat for school lunches, despite the Legislature's decision a day earlier to ease restrictions on the livestock leanness-enhancing drug in imported beef.

In the interest of students' safety, the meat served in lunches at elementary and junior high schools nationwide will contain no ractopamine residue, the ministry's Physical Education Department Director Wang Chun-chuan said.

The policy applies to both pork and beef, he said, adding that school lunches in Taiwan rarely contain beef because the administrators make an effort to accommodate the religious beliefs of some students.

Meanwhile, cities and counties governed by the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party have responded swiftly to the Legislature's passage of a bill that lifts Taiwan's ban on ractopamine.

The Yilan County Government said it will step up spot checks of both beef and pork, and will publish the results. Restaurants and meat suppliers will also be required to clearly indicate the country of origin of their meat products, it said.

Tainan Mayor Lai Ching-te said the city will adopt similar measures, and that labeling of meat products will be mandatory so that consumers can decide whether to buy the product.

Ho Chi-kung, director-general of the Kaohsiung City Department of Health, said the city government will check beef products to ensure that any ractopamine residues fall within the limits set by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC), a global food safety body.

The CAC voted earlier this month to allow a maximum residue level of 10 ppb of ractopamine in beef and pork, 40 ppb in pig and cattle livers, and 90 ppb in pig and cattle kidneys.

Taiwan has not yet established a separate standard for allowable levels of ractopamine in meat.

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