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Venison, veganism very likely vogue in food scares

It doesn't take a psychic or a poll master to predict this — veganism will be increasingly in vogue in Taiwan. The chief promoter of this new diet trend is Taiwan's incompetent government, which has done more than any religious group or animal activist can hope to do in keeping people from meat.

While the belated announcement of a H5N2 avian flu outbreak caused worries about Taiwan eggs and chickens — which by the way did not have to be the case if the Council of Agriculture (COA) had handled inspections and flu verification properly — U.S. beef products sold in Taiwan were found to contain residue of the currently banned leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine. Even as the nation is debating on whether to ease the ractopamine ban to allow U.S. beef imports, beef imported from Australia and New Zealand were now tested positive for banned growth drugs, some even more toxic than ractopamine. Meanwhile, these drugs were also found in some domestic pork products.

That leaves us with fish, vegetables or other more exotic ingredients. Venison anybody?

The most worrying aspect of the ongoing food controversy is not the discovery of tainted products, which are only a fraction of the total, but the manner the government handled these cases. By either covering up, or at least as government officials admitted, belatedly announcing a H5N2 outbreak, the COA increased the difficulty of containing the situation (by delaying the destruction of ill chickens). It also severely damaged public confidence in Taiwan poultry. H5N2 is believed to be noncontagious to humans, so had the COA been more straightforward, the public scare could have been avoided and minimized.

Now the reasonable questions are: what have we been eating all along? How many tainted products have we taken before ractopamine became a public concern? The discovery of growth drugs in foreign beef imports now point to Taiwanese inspectors' failure to keep them out of the country.

Protecting the people's health is one of the government's most important duties. The government must make sure to keep all banned products off shelves and to explain to the public the complicated but necessary information on food additives and food quarantine.

March 14, 2012    ludahai_twn@
This article ignores the excessive amounts of pesticides used in the production of some fruits and vegetables in Taiwan. That isn't completely safe, either.
March 14, 2012    wirewrapper@
March 14, 2012    by19972@
Why would belated announcement have anything to do with containing H5N2 since it is, as said, non-contagious to humans? What's the logic in that? Had it been human-contagious, general public awareness would have been important. Since the problem seems to be a localized problem affecting only chickens, why can't the problem be left to specialists to handle? The real question should be whether there is belated containment of the affected chickens instead of belated announcement. If all necessary steps have been taken in time contain the affected chickens, I don't think it matters that much whether or not there is an urgent announcement to the general public.
March 15, 2012    bibotkngo57@
Does that mean that the thousands of Taiwanese now living in the United States and the Americans are going to die because they have been eating rectopamine enhanced meat approved by the FDA? Oh come on, grow up Taiwanese people. Do not mix politics in what we are going to eat.
March 15, 2012    elumpen@
If the ractopamine fiasco and H5N2 scare has any upside, perhaps it's that Taiwanese people are finally starting to sit up and take notice of the woeful state of agriculture - not just in Taiwan but worldwide. As ludahai_twn notes, most vegetables are as tainted as meat, if not more so.

The recent outbreak of H5N2, and the argument over ractopamine, would never have happened if Taiwan (and elsewhere) applied proper standards for animal welfare. Rather than complain about government incompetence, Taiwanese consumers and farmers should see these events as a golden opportunity to reform local agriculture into something which is productive, healthy, and profitable. Taiwan should show backward countries like the USA how it ought to be done. It's not difficult, but it needs some public consensus that it's necessary and desirable.

March 16, 2012    carltanong@
wirewrapper@ wrote:
Yes.........understand that word ludahai_nippon? Heheh.

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