Drug-contaminated pork destroyed

TAIPEI - All of the pork found in Miaoli County, northern Taiwan that was confirmed to contain the veterinary drug "ractopamine, " has been destroyed in an effort to protect consumers' safety and rights, said an official with the Miaoli County Department of Health.
calendar icon 30 July 2007
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Lin Yu-chen, chief of the department's food inspection section, said that the Miaoli county government sent two samples of the pork obtained from a Miaoli traditional market to the Cabinet-level Department of Health (DOH) July 23 for inspection of possible containing of ractopamine, a drug used by some foreign farmers as an additive to promote the growth of lean meat in pigs, but which is banned in Taiwan.

One of the two samples was found to have contained ractopamine, and Miaoli County's officials in charge of food security have scrambled to the butchers in the market that unwittingly sold the ractopamine-contaminated pork to have the product destroyed, Lin said.

Meanwhile, Lin called for all meat dealers in Miaoli to refrain from sourcing pork from other cities or counties beyond Miaoli for the time being to avoid buying ractopamine-contaminated pork. "Ractopamine scare" has gripped the island since two shipments, totaling some 1,000 tons, of 7,400 tons of U.S. pork imported between October 2006 and June this year, were detected last week to have contained residue of the banned drug. The contaminated pork has reportedly entered local markets and has been consumed by local people.

The DOH has not suspended U.S. pork imports because current regulations governing imported foodstuffs inspections state that a one-year import suspension can be issued only when three shipments of the food item are detected to contain banned substances.

Although the U.S. pork imports cannot be banned for the time being, food health agencies around the country have been told to beef up inspection efforts, and the ratio of imported pork to be subject to testing for banned substance residue has been raised.

The Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine under the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture decided last October to ban all drugs used by farmers as food additives to boost growth of lean meat in pigs, including ractopamine, after cases were reported abroad concerning the effect of such drugs on consumers' heart and neural systems.

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