TAIWAN – As public health officials consider lifting Taiwan’s ban on ractopamine in beef imported from the US, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) dispelled myths about the use of the feed additive and endorsed its safety in a release titled: “The Facts about US Beef and Ractopamine.”

Critics of ractopamine use say leanness-enhancing feed additives are not used in Taiwan and they are resistant to lifting the ban of beef imports of US beef. They have pointed out, too, that the US exports ractopamine-free beef to other countries. More than 20 countries allow ractopamine as a livestock feed, including the US, but it is banned in more than 100 countries, including Taiwan, China and the European Union.

"US beef is safe, and millions of consumers in Japan, South Korea, Mexico and the more-than 100 countries that import US beef are proof," said Sheila Paskman, the AIT's public diplomacy section chief.

The AIT statement not only provides a definition of ractopamine, but cites studies that confirm the use of it in the production of US beef is tested to ensure residues to not exceed safe levels, based on a joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives. The committee’s basis for rejecting an EU study that claimed ractopamine was unsafe is also documented in the release.

"Since ractopamine was approved for pigs in 1999 and for cattle in 2003, there have no reports of any human illness linked to the consumption of beef or pork from animals that have been fed ractopamine," Paskman said.