Taiwan to speed up reaction to food safety crises

Black pepper from Vietnam with excessive pesticides stopped at border

Black pepper. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – In the case of a food safety crisis, there will be a meeting within three hours of the deputy chiefs of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) and the Council of Agriculture (COA) to work out a response to the emergency, a government official said Wednesday.

Over the past four years, Taiwan has suffered several food safety incidents, ranging from the mixing of oil products unsuitable for human consumption with cooking oils, and the excessive presence of pesticides in groceries.

On Wednesday, the government announced it had stopped a shipment of 25 tons of black pepper from Vietnam at the border last month because a high level of pesticides had been found. About a dozen other products had been barred as well during a crackdown on residues of pesticides, bleaching agents and heavy metals in imported food.

The new joint way of handling food safety emergencies was presented to a full Cabinet meeting last week, and explained at a meeting of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s leadership Wednesday afternoon by Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲), deputy minister at the COA.

He also reportedly said that in future, not only bad test results for certain food products would be announced to the public, but also good ones.