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Taiwan: DoH proposal riles pig farmers

Taiwanese pig farmers have accused the Department of Health (DoH) of planning to loosen restrictions on ractopamine content in pork to open up the country to more imports of US pork, writes the Taipei Times.

Legal in the US
Ractopamine, a feed additive marketed under the trade name Paylean, is banned by the Council of Agriculture. The additive is, however, legal in the US and many other countries.

At a public hearing held by representatives of regional pig farmer associations, speakers urged the government to apply the strictest standards on the legal limits of toxic chemicals in pork.

Last month, the DoH announced a draft amendment to the Method of Test for Veterinary Drug Residues in Foods that would allow for 0.3 parts per million (ppm) of ractopamine to be present in muscle tissue and 0.5ppm in organ tissue, said Pan Lien-chou, president of the Swine Association.

Over-consumption risks
Over-consumption of ractopamine can result in cardiovascular diseases, including increased heart rate and blood pressure, said Lin Ja-liang, director of clinical toxicology at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital. Pan accused the DoH of raising permissible levels of the chemical in order to allow more pork to be imported from the US.

“We want 'zero detection,' no matter what kind of testing instrument is used,” said Pan, adding that he was suspicious about the reasoning behind the change to the current regulations. Pan said that he and other pig farmers would “very likely” take to the streets in protest because they felt the government “has not listened to us.”

In response, DoH Minister Yeh Ching-chuan said that the department's stance on the issue remained the same. The proposed amendment was not a loosening of restrictions, but was only meant to add Paylean to the list stipulating drug residue limits for foods, Yeh said.

Farmer protests
Pig farmers marched in protest and threw eggs at the DoH building last year after two shipments of US pork caused widespread concern when they tested positive for ractopamine. The pig farmers said the government had double standards, with ractopamine prohibited in locally produced pork but permitted in low levels in imported pork.

Source: Taipei Times

Related Website
Taiwan Department of Health

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