Alexa

Unit to be set up to tackle food safety issues: premier

Unit to be set up to tackle food safety issues: premier

Taipei, Oct. 22 (CNA) The Cabinet will establish an inter-ministry unit to handle issues of mislabeled and unsafe food products, Premier Jiang Yi-huah said Tuesday, amid a brewing controversy over the safety of cooking oils sold in Taiwan. The unit will be similar to the one that deals with fake and banned drugs and will welcome tipoffs by informants, Jiang said before attending a plenary session of the Legislature. Violators of the Act Governing Food Sanitation are subject to fines, the premier said, citing the example of Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co. which has been fined NT$286 million (US$9.73 million) since Oct. 16 when authorities found that its oil products were not as pure as it had claimed. Food safety issues should not be tackled by the Ministry of Health and Welfare alone, Jiang said, adding that the existing quality control system needs to be improved. All food products should be subject to lab tests before being allowed on the market, the premier said, noting that currently quality control is left up to the producers, with random checks carried out by the government. On the Chang Chi matter, Jiang told lawmakers during the plenary session the health ministry has recalled the company's products, and vendors that fail to comply within the stipulated one-week period will be fined. Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta, who also attended the legislative session, denied claims that the ministry had tried to cover up the cooking oil issue after it learned of the allegations against Chang Chi in late August. In fact, Chiu said, his ministry had advised local health officials in Changhua County to work with prosecutors after the county's investigation was hindered by Chang Chi's refusal to allow a government inspection. He promised to publish a report within a week, following a government inspection of all 163 edible oil producers in Taiwan. As of noon Tuesday, health authorities had completed inspection of 50 producers, according to Wu Shiow-ing, deputy director-general of the health ministry's Food and Drug Administration. The health ministry has given a public reminder that informants who help uncover violations of the food sanitation law are entitled to a reward of 5 percent of the fines. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Education issued a statement Tuesday, saying it had determined by means of a survey that Chang Chi's products were being used in meals at 123 public schools in 11 counties throughout Taiwan. All of the schools have been instructed to stop using the products, the ministry said. (By Chen Wei-ting, Wen Kuei-hsiang, Wang Ching-yi, Lung Rui-yun, Chen Chih-chung and Kay Liu)


Updated : 2021-01-20 16:23 GMT+08:00