December 29, 2009 / 5:12 PM / 10 years ago

Taiwan agrees to reinstate partial U.S. beef ban

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan’s parliament agreed to amend a food sanitation law to ban certain U.S. beef imports on Tuesday, amid widespread fears over mad cow disease on the island and potentially straining ties with the United States.

Legislators will vote on the issue early next year, Wang Jin-pyng, president of the island’s legislature said, after the ruling Kuomintang and opposition Democratic Progressive Party came to an in-principle agreement to reinstate the ban.

Under the deal, minced beef, cow offal and beef from cattle above 30 months old will not be allowed for import into Taiwan, the government-backed Central News Agency reported.

In late October, Taiwan said it would reopen its markets to U.S. bone-in beef and cow offal, ending a six-year import ban that was in place over fears of mad cow disease.

Taiwan first issued the ban on all U.S. beef in December 2003, but opened its markets to boneless U.S. beef in 2006. It kept the ban on bone-in beef such as ribs and T-bone steaks.

Importers, the main opposition party, the public and ruling party KMT mayors from two major cities have questioned the decision despite repeated government assurances the beef is safe.

A public furor over fears of mad cow disease has handed President Ma Ying-jeou his biggest crisis since the government’s perceived slow response to a deadly typhoon in August.

Reporting by Chuang Pichi, Editing by Nick Macfie

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