Washington is stepping up pressure on Taiwan to back down on its ban on ractopamine, a leanness- and growth-promoting drug used widely in pork and beef production in the United States. Taiwan's zero tolerance policy for the drug, which applies to both domestic production and imports, has become a critical barrier to further liberalizing trade between the two countries.
The country's newly sworn in cabinet is expected to discuss the contentious dispute at its first meeting later this week. One lawmaker has said – no meat products, whether beef, lamb, pork or chicken, should be allowed into Taiwan if it contains leanness enhancers. Taiwan’s consumers and farmers are threatening a protest.
Taiwan began testing U.S. beef for ractopamine in January 2011 and within days found trace levels of the drug. U.S. food safety officials said the levels found ranged from 2.4 to 4.07 parts per billion, which falls below both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration standard and the proposed international standard, but Taiwanese officials pulled the meat from the shelves of grocery stores citing consumer concerns.