Cows became diseased with bovine insanity back in 2003 and Taiwan with the rest of the Asian Tigers banned imports of American beef and turned to Australian imports. Since then it has been a political tug of war between Taiwan and the US and the Taiwanese parties the DPP with the KMT. There is a lot of food the Americans consider “safe” that many other countries consider risky, like for example, GMO foods (illegal in Europe).
The main culprit is “ractopamine residue,“ which the US considered safe 13 years ago, but recent tests have proved otherwise (thanks to studies from Colorado State University, way to go Ft. Collins!) It is banned in 160 countries including the EU, China and Taiwan. Imported meat is tested and if traces of ractopamine are discovered, then its rejected, if found in domestic meat, punishment includes fines and imprisonment. Only 24 counties support the use of ractopamine and I daresay its legal because of US bullying. The US has coerced Taiwan’s president Ma before by threats of withholding trade agreements and even the US throwing its support to Ma late in the very recent election is seen as his cowering to US pressure in changing Taiwan’s import status of US beef. American beef here is such a hot button that there was a referendum and on Friday Ma had to appear in front of his legislature to pressure him to stick with the vote of Taiwan’s public concern of US meat.
So whats the beef with Ractopamine? “It belongs to the class of beta-adrenoceptor agonists. This class of drugs binds to beta-receptors in the heart. The overall effect of beta-agonists is cardiac stimulation, including increased heart rate and systemic dilation of blood vessels. Other drugs in this class have been found to be carcinogenic,” (see article by Barbara Minton). And is growth promoter used to take the nutrients that go to fat and increase the lean meat, it increases feed production and meat producers profits. Very often it is overused, Temple Grandin, a professor at Colorado State University and animal welfare expert, was quoted saying: “I’ve personally seen people overuse the drug in hogs and cattle...I was in a plant once where they used too much ractopamine and the pigs were so weak they couldn’t walk. They had five or six people just dedicated to handling the lame pigs.” Yum!
This issue has even incorporated the Linsanity of current basketball icon Jeremy Lin! The director of China Medical University Hospital’s Department of Infection Control Wang Jen-Hsien (王任賢), was quoted yesterday, as having told the task force when it convened its first meeting that “Jeremy Lin made it to the NBA because he eats US beef. Taiwanese couldn’t [make it to the NBA] because they don’t [eat US beef.]” Oh the science!
So what beef do I eat when I eat it? I admit if I see it’s from America I won’t buy it. Carrafore has Australian Black Angus, free range, hormone free beef, for just a bit more piece of mind and taste—it’s worth it.
- Kathy (杜 言 艷)
- Yilan, Taiwan
- I'm a Social Studies teacher and single mom from Colorado and have lived here for 9 years. Taiwan is an excellent base for us explore Asia, while living in relative (gun free) safety, while benefiting from a cheap and efficient national health care system. The people are amazing too. I have friendships that are 14 years old and I'm always making new ones.