US decries 'disinformation' amid Taiwan pork import dispute

Most pork consumed in Taiwan is domestically-reared. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - The de facto US embassy in Taiwan on Thursday (Dec 17) decried "disinformation" from politicians about food safety, amid a contentious decision by the island's government to allow imports of US pork treated with a leanness-enhancing additive.

President Tsai Ing-wen's decision in August to allow imports of US pork containing ractopamine, which is banned in the European Union and China, has roiled Taiwan politics.

The main opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party opposes the move on safety grounds, holding noisy protests and flinging pig entrails in Parliament on one occasion.

The government says nobody will be forced to eat the pork and that the move brings Taiwan into line with international norms.

In a statement, the American Institute in Taiwan said that all US exports to the island and its other trade partners were safe and meet the same high, evidence-based standards that are also used in the United States.

"Safe here. Safe there. Safe everywhere. That's one of the reasons American food is so popular in Taiwan," it said.

"When political figures propagate disinformation and raise unfounded anxiety among Taiwan consumers, it is a disservice to everyone," the institute added, without naming any names.

"We call on all parties to approach this issue responsibly and on the basis of science." On Wednesday, the mayor of the central Taiwanese city of Taichung, the KMT's Lu Shiow-yen, expressed her concerns about the pork issue to the top US diplomat in Taiwan, Brent Christensen.

Most pork consumed in Taiwan is domestically-reared, with only around one per cent currently coming from the United States.

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