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FDA Gives Further Clarification about the Reinstatement of Import Inspection of Canadian Beef

  • Data Source:Ministry of Health and Welfare
  • Created:2016-07-08
  • Last Updated:2017-01-10

In regards to the reinstatement of inspection of imported beef from Canada, the Food and Drug Administration, Ministry of Health and Welfare (referred to “FDA” hereinafter) gave the following explanation:

1. The review for applications for meat import in Taiwan is based on the Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) of the World Trade Organization (WTO). By referencing the specifications formulated by international standard-setting organizations such as the Office International Des Epizooties (OIE), which is explicitly laid down in the SPS, as well as the scientific evidences relating to Taiwanese eating patterns, risk assessments are conducted cautiously. 

2. Since February 2015, when Canada reported its 19th Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) case in Alberta Province, the FDA suspended all applications for import inspections of Canadian beef products pursuant to a resolution in the inter-departmental meeting on February 22, 2015 convened by the Ministry of Economic Affairs. 

3. Concerning the 19th case of BSE in Canada, countries around the world have gradually reinstated the import of Canadian beef after confirming the sanitary quality and safety of Canadian beef. For a period of time before July 8, 2016, Taiwan was the only country that still had a ban on the import of Canadian beef. 

4. The Ministry of Economic Affairs drafted the Risk Communication Procedure for Opening up Import of Beef and Related Products from BSE-affected Countries in September 2015, which was approved by the Executive Yuan. 

5. In November and December of 2015, Taiwan’s FDA and Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) under the Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan invited veterinarians and animal husbandry experts to go to Canada to conduct field investigations and other technical evaluation work. This includes reviewing the investigation report on the 19th BSE case and the current management status in Canada. The delegation has gained first-hand knowledge of the follow-up surveillance program, the implementation of feed management, and the safety management practices regarding Canadian beef. 

6. The FDA carried out a documentary review on the “Epidemiology-related Investigation Report” and details about safety management on Canadian beef provided by the Canadian government in accordance with the Taiwan-Canada beef agreement. Local risk assessment experts were also commissioned to carry out “Food Safety Risk Assessment.” Canada then submitted the conclusive investigation report on the 19th BSE case in December 2015. All of the above-mentioned reports have been reviewed in a BSE expert advisory meeting convened by FDA. 

7. When Premier Lin Chuan met ex-Premier Chang San-Cheng for the hand-over on April 8 this year, Chang pointed out that Taiwan was the only country in the world that had not yet reinstated import inspection of Canadian beef, and that he was ready to undertake the responsibilities. He hoped the necessary procedures could be completed before May 20, and asked for Lin’s assistance in communicating with DPP. Premier Lin agreed to help. Both Lin and Chang agreed on rational cooperation to deal with the inspection applications for import of Canadian beef to Taiwan based on scientific risk assessments, provided that food safety and public health are ensured. After the new government took office on May 20, the Ministry of Economic Affairs worked with the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to communicate and explain the situation to Legislative Yuan Speaker Su Jia-Chyuan as well as related personnel in various parties and in the fields of economic affairs, foreign affairs, and health and welfare. 

8. After confirming the low risk of consuming Canadian beef and the reliable management system for Canadian beef, the Ministry of Economic Affairs reported to the Executive Yuan and obtained approval. The FDA thereby agreed to reinstate inspection for importing Canadian beef on July 8, 2016 upon the consensus in the inter-departmental meeting and after the external risk communication process is complete. Imported beef must fulfill the following conditions: (1) coming from healthy cattle that have passed ante-mortem inspection by a veterinarian; (2) coming from cattle under 30 months’ old; (3) having removed all “specified risk materials” at the time of slaughter; (4) being produced by qualified workshops for export to Taiwan; (5) each batch of products must be produced under supervision of an official veterinarian of the exporting country and be confirmed to be meeting the regulations for export to Taiwan; and (6) each batch of products must come with sanitary certificate signed and issued by an official veterinarian of Canada. 

The government is to implement batch-by-batch inspection at the border, keeping a stringent control on the products for consumers. The control measures not only include batch-by-batch import inspection and quarantine checks by the FDA and BAPHIQ at the border, but also includes augmented examinations and sample checks in domestic markets. This will ensure that the origin of the meat is properly labeled to protect the health and safety of people in Taiwan.