TAIPEI, Taiwan – Taiwan officials are inviting the public to express their opinions about upcoming changes to its Act Governing Food Sanitation legislation. In late July, the legislature passed amendments to the act opening Taiwan's doors to imports of beef containing traces of ractopamine, which is currently banned in the country.

The new regulations are expected to take effect by mid-September. Taiwan officials are previewing the notice to allow members of the public to express their opinions on the measures, said Kang Jaw-jou, director-general of the Department of Health's Food and Drug Administration, at a news conference.

Taiwan will allow up to 10 parts per billion of ractopamine, which is equal to recommendations from the Codex Alimentarius Commission but short of the 30 parts per billion limits allowed in the US. Established by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and its World Health Organization to promote food safety and fair practices in trade, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, adopted a standard for ractopamine on July 4.

Ractopamine has been approved for use in 26 countries, including Australia, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines and South Korea. However, the European Union, China, Taiwan and Thailand currently ban imports of pork from pigs fed ractopamine.

The ractopamine issue is considered politically divisive in Taiwan, although the move is aimed at soothing tensions between the US and Taiwan. The US suspended Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) talks with Taiwan in 2007 because of the ractopamine ban.

Within the next 14 days, opinions from the public can be submitted, which Kang said "will be taken into consideration" by the department. He did not rule out the possibility of re-evaluating the standard for ractopamine residue, but admitted that "the chances are slim."

The public can also express views on regulations related to the labeling of the origin of beef imports within the following week, Kang added.

Under the new regulations, places serving beef, including restaurants and food stands, must clearly label the origin of the beef they are using, according to the department. Packaged foods such as instant noodles and beef jerky, as well as loose beef products, should also be labeled with point of origin, it added.

After official notice of the new regulations are formally announced, Kang said, the new measures are expected to come into force by mid-September.

Violators of the new regulations would face fines.