Taiwan restaurant chain Shao offers refund for ractopamine-enhanced beef

TAIPEI, Taiwan - The Yuan Shao Barbecue restaurant chain yesterday admitted that 33 kilograms of beef containing the leanness-enhancing drug ractopamine had been sold in 22 stores and consumers can receive refunds with receipts from any branch store starting from Nov. 1.

Taoyuan County Government's Public Health Bureau announced recently that the fillet steak sold at Yuan Shao contained zilpaterol, a type of ractopamine that is banned from being added into foods, and the bureau immediately ordered the store to stop selling the steak.

Yuan Shao yesterday held a press conference to explain the situation and said that the store was informed by authorities on Oct. 18 and took the rest of the 200 kilograms of fillet steak off its shelves immediately.

According to Yuan Shao, the fillet steak, which was found to contain zilpaterol, was added to the menu on Sept. 2, though only about 300 orders of the steak were sold.

The Taipei City Department of Health (DOH) yesterday went to Mayfull Foods Corporation, the company that Yuan Shao purchased the beef from, and seized over 300 kilograms of beef that could contain zilpaterol that was imported from the United States.

The DOH said that the investigations on some questionable products of Mayfill Foods Corporation will continue and the officials have requested a list of clients from the company.

Yuan Shao's mother company Wowprime Group's shares on Tuesday bucked the gains on the broader market, ending down NT$4 (S$0.16), or 0.82 per cent, at NT$481.5, while the benchmark Taiwan Weighted Index rose 13.15 points, or 0.16 per cent, to 8,420.98 points.

According to the Taoyuan County Government's Public Health Bureau, if people consume meat products that contain high amounts of zilpaterol residue, they might experience symptoms of dizziness, nausea and palpitation.

Health Bureau Accused of Concealing Truth

The Taoyuan County Government's Public Health Bureau was accused of hiding the case regarding Yuan Shao selling beef containing ractopamine for nearly a month.

According to the bureau, the officials were made aware of the case on Oct. 8, but the bureau ordered the store to take the products off its shelves on Oct. 18 and published this news on Oct. 29.

The bureau yesterday explained that 35 restaurants were involved in these inspections and it took three weeks to finish the entire process, and the officials did not delay reporting the issue to the store or to the public.