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Cabinet pledges to step up food safety inspection (update)

Cabinet pledges to step up food safety inspection (update)

Taipei, Oct. 23 (CNA) The government will strengthen the existing food safety inspection mechanism under the Cabinet, Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo said Wednesday, amid a scandal in which Tatung-brand cooking oils were found to have been adulterated. A joint task force responsible for food safety inspection and enforcement will be set up under the Cabinet's food and drug safety panel as soon as possible, Mao said. "We will take proactive action and strengthen our inspection of stable food products for possible irregularities. Producers found to be breaking the law will be penalized severely," he said at a press conference. The Cabinet has instructed the related agencies to review and improve the existing food safety management system, such as reinforcing controls over raw materials and additives and bringing in third-party supervision, he said. Other areas of focus also include stepping up the inspection of food products sold on the market and better regulating the food-related certification programs, he added. Mao said the government is deeply saddened by the unscrupulous practices of certain black sheep in the food industry and will certainly seek the heaviest penalty possible for the perpetrators. Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co., which sells edible oils under the Tatung brand, is believed to have added cheaper cottonseed oil and copper chlorophyllin -- a coloring agent banned from use in cooking oils in Taiwan -- to some of its products to save costs. The company also may have misrepresented several of its products, according to reports. Meanwhile, Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta said at the same news conference that he will assume full responsibility for the incident and ensure it is thoroughly investigated. According to Wu Hsiu-ying, deputy head of the Food and Drug Administration under the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the ministry has launched an investigation into all 163 edible oil processing companies around Taiwan and has so far inspected 76 of them. The products of these companies will be tested to see if they are being adulterated, improperly labeled or contain gossypol, a toxin linked to male infertility that can be found in unprocessed cottonseed oil, Wu said. Also Wednesday, President Ma Ying-jeou said during a meeting of the ruling Kuomintang's Central Standing Committee that the food safety incidents uncovered in Taiwan in recent years reflect problems that have existed in the country for many years. While these incidents severely undermined people's confidence in food products, they also created the opportunity for the country to examine the long-time problems, Ma said. Unimpressed by Ma's pledges to improve food safety, opposition Democratic Progressive Party spokesman Lin Chun-hsien urged the president to take substantial action instead of paying lip service. Lin said every time a food scandal occurs in Taiwan, the president invariably promises to improve food safety, but none of these promises have brought about any substantive change, as evidenced by the recurrence of similar incidents. (By Angela Tsai, Kelven Huang and Y.F. Low)


Updated : 2021-08-01 10:23 GMT+08:00