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Taiwan says US beef unsafe

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SASH

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Protests greet US beef imports

FOOD SAFETY: Consumer advocates questioned the decision to allow US beef into Taiwan, while some legislators said political pressure had played a part
By Jackie Lin
STAFF REPORTER
Wednesday, Apr 27, 2005,Page 10

US beef products are displayed at a press conference held by members of the Consumers' Foundation yesterday in Taipei to lash out at the Department of Health's lack of a food inspection mechanism to ensure food safety after the government lifted a ban on imports of US beef. But government officials said that the opening to US beef was decided after a careful evaluation.

Consumer advocates and several lawmakers yesterday lashed out at the government's decision to lift a 16-month-old ban on US beef as the Department of Health admitted that Taiwan is incapable of detecting whether imported beef products are free of the lethal mad cow disease.

They said that since the US is still identified as an area where bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, or mad cow disease) remains a threat, with no remedies yet available, the government should not place commercial benefits ahead of public health.

Taiwan is the US' sixth-largest beef importer. Import volumes reached US$325 million in 2003.

"Can government officials guarantee that these US beef products are absolutely safe?" said Terry Huang , secretary-general of the Consumers' Foundation , at a press conference yesterday.

Huang said that since the government announced the lifting of the ban in late March, it has yet to clearly explain to the public why it is allowing US beef to re-enter the market, especially when Japan, South Korea, China and Singapore have refused, citing food safety.

"Considering the frequent exchanges between the people of these nations and Taiwan, I'm afraid that Taiwan might form a gap in the line of defense [against the disease]," he said.

Local consumers' excitement over US beef products has attracted media attention in the region, with a TV crew from Japan's Yomiuri Telecasting Corp coming to Taiwan over the last few days to film Taiwanese savoring the long-banned beef.

Defending the policy, a health department official said a panel of 18 experts had inspected and evaluated safety measures in US slaughterhouses and concluded that the likelihood of a case of mad cow disease was minute. They therefore decided to conditionally allow the imports.

"I dare not say the risk is zero, but we have confidence in their [US] disease controls and management systems," said Hsiao Tung-ming ,deputy director of the department's food safety bureau.

He admitted that Taiwan now lacks high-end facilities to inspect for such diseases, although all imported meat, regardless of its origins, is tested for residues of animal drugs.

Currently, only boneless meat cut from cattle younger than 30 months old can enter the market. Cattle parts such as intestines and tonsils, which have a higher risk of being contaminated, are still prohibited.

Still, no one can guarantee that the disease does not exist in the muscles of cattle, said Su Wei-shou ,a researcher at the office of Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lai Hsin-yuan .

Examining slices of brain tissue is the only method now available to detect whether a cow has contracted the deadly disease.

Testing the safety of the meat itself cannot guarantee it has no risk, said Su, who is also a physician in Yunlin County.

Su said the government had argued that the likelihood of eating meat from a sick cow was less than one out of a million, but "if you are the unfortunate one, there is only one outcome -- death."

Moreover, the incubation period for the disease extends from 10 to 30 years, which is one of the reasons the government must not lower its guard, he said.

Dissatisfied with the health department's opening of the market, opposition lawmakers said they suspected that political pressure was behind the decision.

"On March 10, President Chen Shui-bian said in a speech that he missed the steaks he had had in Houston and that he believed we'd soon have US beef in Taiwan again. Following his remarks, the health department began convening cross-ministerial negotiations [about lifting the ban on US beef]," said Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wu Yu-sheng .

Even Council of Agriculture Chairman Lee Chin-lung had clearly stated that the council opposed allowing US cattle and beef to enter the nation, but regrettably, "the council's professionalism was not respected," KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao said.

"We appeal to the government to apply the brakes on this erroneous decision and not risk the public's health," Lai said.
 

Murgen

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But, isn't this just politics against US trade practises?

I suppose some are starting to get my sarcasm, when it comes to trying to trade on scientific standards when it comes to export markets, but arguing in court on an economic basis!

"All be the power of R-CALF"
 

Sandhusker

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Guess what's going to happen if we ever send non-tested beef to Japan....

There's something to be learned here, but you can bet the anti-testing crowd won't get it. :roll:
 

Brad S

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I see this crap on here much too often where someone (usually a Canadian) titles a post (usually with anti US rhetoric) with a distinctly different message than the post. So to evaluate the difficulty of comprehending this news release, I asked my 7 year old daughter to read the release. when asked who opposed US beef in Taiwan? She said, "the Consumers Foundation." When asked if they sounded like they speak for Taiwan since they oppose the actions of the Taiwan government? "No" When asked who should more accurately be called Taiwan, those with the power to effect import laws in Taiwan or a powerless group complaining about the government? "Obviously the government that makes the laws"


Why can my 7 year old daughter understand the opposition to US beef in Taiwan is a splinter faction while Sash demonstrates his/her intelligence/honesty with the misleading caption. It is easily understood, from the post, that "Taiwan" approves the safety of US beef while a consumer group opposes the decision. Therefore it is an utter falsehood to caption the post as Sash has. Stupid or dishonest are equally dismissive so I won't try to determine the mistake other than to say there seems to be some that really wish to impune US beef. OK, I revealed that I think if my 7 year old can understand the post than likely Sash can also. So I think Sash is a liar for miscaptioning the post and a fool to think we wouldn't catch it.
 

SASH

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Consumer advocates and several lawmakers yesterday lashed out at the government's decision to lift a 16-month-old ban on US beef as the Department of Health admitted that Taiwan is incapable of detecting whether imported beef products are free of the lethal mad cow disease.

From what I read lawmakers = judges? and consumer advocates = most of the groups that R-CALF has affiliated itself with? Are not these exactly the same groups that are opposing the importing of Canadian beef into the US?
 

Brad S

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first, lawmakers = judges is pure fantasy
second, consumer advocates = most of the groups rcalf ... mostly fantasy
There is no analogy here to rationalize the untruthfulness of the miscaption "Taiwan says USbeefunsafe."

The US presently accepts fabricated Canadian beef, and some oppose it. It would be wrong to suggest that "America says Canadian beef is unsafe."

Taiwan accepts US fabricated beef, and some oppose it. And the conclusion "taiwan says US beef unsafe" is uncomplimentary of its composer.
 

SASH

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It would be wrong to suggest that "America says Canadian beef is unsafe."

That's funny, I'm sure I heard R-CALF say that Canadian beef was unsafe even though now they have flip-flopped and are saying they never said that. R-CALF is also telling people that they are representing the American consumer and trying to keep the American food supply safe. I think you are splitting hairs and as a supporter of R-CALF if anyone would know about misrepresentation, I'm sure it would be you.
 

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