Lawmaker, civic group call for ban on US beef
CNATAIPEI--A lawmaker and a civic group yesterday urged the government to immediately ban imports of American beef after a report was issued confirming a mad cow disease case earlier in the year.
August 8, 2012, 12:22 am TWN
Legislator Lin Shih-chia of the opposition Taiwan Solidarity Union said that after the United States reported a suspected case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, commonly known as mad cow disease, in April, the opposition camp twice proposed to ban U.S. beef from entering Taiwan but was rejected both times.
In May, a Taiwanese delegation visiting the United States to investigate the matter returned with the conclusion that U.S. beef is safe, Lin said.
But a final report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Aug. 3 confirmed the mad cow disease case, the fourth in the United States since 2003.
The report, released after months of investigation, also said the case in California was an isolated one and that no products from the carcass of the dead cow had entered the human food chain.
Lin said that according to the Act Governing Food Sanitation, cattle brains, spines and eyes, beef offal and ground beef cannot be imported from places with mad cow disease cases in the previous 10 years, which means those cuts cannot be imported from the U.S. until 2022.
She also said the U.S. case was discovered under a U.S. Agriculture Department program that tests for the disease in about 40,000 of the 35 million cows slaughtered in the country each year.
If one out of the 40,000 cows checked have mad cow disease, then of the 600,000 cows of meat Taiwan imports every year, the meat from 15 could be infected with the fatal brain disease, Lin contended.
Chang Yu-ling of the Housemakers United Foundation said even high temperatures or freezing cannot eliminate the protein in beef related to mad cow disease.
“The best way is not to not eat or buy U.S. beef, but to directly ban imports of American beef,” Chang said.
She was referring to prions, which are responsible for the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies in a variety of mammals, including bovine spongiform encephalopathy in cattle.
Taiwan opened its door to more American beef recently after it revised the law last month to allow entry of beef containing traces of a veterinary drug called ractopamine that had been banned in Taiwan but is allowed in the U.S.
The opening to ractopamine was unrelated to the debate over mad cow disease.