Taiwan to conditionally open market to beef imports from Japan

Taipei--Taiwan will conditionally open its market to beef imports from Japan, Sweden and Netherlands, ending a 14-year-old ban on beef from the three countries, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Monday.

Wu Tsung-hsi, an FDA section chief, said Taiwan banned beef imports from the three countries in 2003 because of the risk they might be infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy, more commonly known as mad cow disease.

To get a ban on beef imports from mad cow disease-infected regions lifted, the countries involved need to apply and then undergo systematic and written data screening, risk assessments and expert reviews.

The United States and Canada, which had bans on their beef imposed because of mad cow disease, submitted applications and eventually got the bans partially lifted.

The Netherlands, Japan and Sweden applied for removal of the ban in 2006, 2007 and 2012, respectively, but it was not until Monday that the FDA said it had decided to partially lift the ban after a series of assessments.

In doing so, the FDA still imposed restrictions on beef from the three countries according to regulations it plans to formally announce as early as September.

The regulations require beef from the Netherlands to come from cattle under 12 months old, and beef from Japan and Sweden must come from cattle under 30 months old.

Also, risky parts of beef cows from the three countries, such as tonsils, marrow and spine, should be removed after the animal is slaughtered, and the beef should come from certified factories that have a veterinarian on site to supervise the process.

The opening to beef from Japan, the Netherlands and Sweden will follow the same process as for beef imports from the United States and Canada, meaning the beef will have to undergo strict source management and import inspections and clearly show the place of origin.

Taiwan relies on other countries for 94 percent of its beef needs, with most foreign beef coming from the United States and Australia.

The FDA said Taiwan currently allows beef imports from the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Paraguay.

Source: Overseas Community Affairs Council