Hundreds of noodle lovers flocked to the 2009 Taipei International Beef Noodle Festival on Saturday, with the local government trying to ease concerns over imported beef.Chefs from across the island showed off their best skills, while stalls offered a mouth watering array of beef noodle choices. Local authorities took advantage of the festival to erase growing fears about the safety of beef, particularly products from the US, which continue to raise doubts among Taiwanese consumers. Taipei's mayor, Hau Lung-bin, said all beef used at the festival was safe. The city government requires beef traders or retailers to clearly identify the origin of their products so consumers can make informed choices.Hau said his government is taking necessary measures to ease worries over imported beef.We know people are worried about beef's safety. Taipei city has a group of people who are insecure about imported beef, so we mark the source of the beef that we are using. We want customers to feel safe when they consume beef, Hau said.Taiwan banned US beef imports in 2003 due to concerns over mad cow disease, and the ban was just lifted in early November. Restaurants and chefs who participated in the festival are part of an alliance that rejects the sale or use of US beef offal, ground beef, and spinal cords. Any stores carrying the alliance badge found to be selling or using such products can get fined and their certificates can be revoked. In spite of measures taken by Taipei authorities to allay consumer fears, restaurant owners say their businesses were still badly hit since the import ban was lifted.Our business has been reduced 30 to 40 percent because of the storm of US beef. We are using local beef or Australian beef, we are not going to use US beef marrow, intestines and other parts. We are using Australian tendon or Taiwan beef, Cheng said.Ever since US beef imports had been allowed early this month, some people have stopped eating beef completely.Outside Taipei, alliances in several other Taiwanese municipalities have also enforced measures against US beef.On the other hand, observers say Taiwan's central government has implemented a trade policy in favour of US beef so it can demand something in return, such as visa-free traveling to the US as well as defence aid.The government of Taipei has been staging the International Beef Noodle Festival annually since 2005.Beef noodles are one of the favourite dishes in Taiwan, and for decades have been deeply rooted in the island's food culture.