October 31, 2013
Taiwan detects feed additive zilpaterol in US beef
Following the heightened concerns across the region over banned animal growth drugs, Taiwan detected cattle feed additive zilpaterol in US beef, the third such incident in less than a month in Asia.
The Food and Drug Administration of Taiwan informed that it discovered the beef tainted with the growth enhancer in a restaurant owned by Wowprime Corp., prompting authorities to increase checks on US meat imports. An official at Wowprime said it had destroyed all of the 203 kilogrammes of tainted US beef.
Due to concerns about the side effects of such drugs, which are used to add muscle weight to animals, there is zero tolerance for feed additives such as zilpaterol in much of Asia and Europe.
Feed additives have been the focus of attention since a video appeared in the US in August showing animals struggling to walk and with other signs of distress after taking a growth drug.
After detecting zilpaterol in meat supplied by a unit of JBS USA earlier this month and authorities in Taiwan found US meat with the same drug, South Korea suspended some US beef imports. The detection of the additive has raised concerns that it may still be in the supply chain despite drug maker Merck & Co. halting sales of Zilmax, the top-selling zilpaterol-based additive, on August 16.
The USDA has said a Swift Beef Company plant in Cactus, Texas, is not eligible to ship beef to South Korea after the country detected growth drug in meat supplied by the company.
Zilpaterol is a beta-agonist, a kind of feed additive that can add as much as 30 pounds of saleable meat to an animal in the weeks before slaughter. Originally developed as asthma drugs for humans, beta-antagonists have helped bolster the ability to produce more beef with fewer cattle in the US.
The Chicago Mercantile Exchange has said it will no longer accept delivery of cattle fed Zilmax to conform with exchange guidelines for deliveries against CME live cattle futures ever since the video of distressed cattle appeared.