Taipei, The Cabinet on Thursday said that local government bans on imported pork containing ractopamine are in contravention of the central government’s authority and will therefore become invalid when restrictions on imports of the meat are lifted on Jan. 1.
At a press conference, Minister without Portfolio Lo Ping-chen (羅秉成) said the Cabinet has been clear in its position that “food safety standards must be consistent in order to be enforceable.”
As of Wednesday, some 17 cities and counties had local self-government ordinances relating to ractopamine, Lo said, calling the prospect of varying standards and guidelines on the leanness-enhancing feed additive “a recipe for total disorder.”
To resolve the situation, he said, the Cabinet has notified localities that ban ractopamine residue in imported pork that their ordinances will be invalidated on Jan. 1, while other locations awaiting approval of pending bans will not be granted approval.
Citing the Act Governing Food Safety and Sanitation, Lo said that the central government alone is responsible for setting standards for pesticide or veterinary drug residues in food products and that local governments are bound to adhere to them.
To support its position, the government has also relied on Article 30 of the Local Government Act, which states that “self-government ordinances shall become invalid if contradictory” to laws or regulations set by a higher authority.
In such instances, the article states, the Executive Yuan or relevant central government agency must notify the local government in writing that its regulation is invalid.
If there is a dispute or uncertainty about the matter, the two sides can file a motion for interpretation by the Judicial Yuan, according to the law.
On the other side of the issue, meanwhile, several local governments — primarily those held by the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) — have argued that the central government’s authority to set maximum residue limits does not necessarily mean that local governments have to follow them.
In one such example, Taichung Legal Affairs Bureau Director-General Lee Shan-chih (李善植) said that Constitutional Interpretation No. 738 gives local governments the right to make “reasonable adjustments” related to central government regulations based on the specific needs of each city and county.
On Thursday, the KMT blasted the Cabinet for its “outrageous refusal to allow local governments to protect food safety” and pledged that it would help them to seek a constitutional interpretation on the issue.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel