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Premier gives 6-point directive for handling edible oil issue

Premier gives 6-point directive for handling edible oil issue

Taipei, Oct. 24 (CNA) Premier Jiang Yi-huah on Thursday issued a directive aimed at improving six aspects of food safety, after it was found that various edible oil products sold under the Tatung brand had been adulterated with cheap cottonseed oil as a way to boost profits. Jiang said that since the scandal came to light last week, a newly established inter-agency food safety task force, led by Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo, has instructed the relevant government departments to step up testing of all edible oils. The premier said he has also asked the relevant government agencies to take six specific steps to ensure food safety. The agencies have been instructed to closely monitor the sources and flow of the problematic oil products to ensure that they have been removed from store shelves and sealed, and to hold accountable any non-compliant companies and seize their illegal gains, Jiang said. The government will also release information about unsafe oil products and certified oils and will set up a service hotline to address public concerns, he said. In addition, the premier said, the management of certified agricultural standards (CAS) labeling and good manufacturing practice (GMP) certification systems must be improved and a three-tier rating system established for food product management. He said the ministries of foreign affairs, economics, and finance should help monitor the flow of edible oil exports and deal with relevant issues to ameliorate the effects on trade and minimize economic losses. Within a week, a team should be established to check food safety and crack down on violators, Jiang said. The team will be required to immediately carry out a comprehensive check of food products, in collaboration with central and local government agencies, investigators, prosecutors and police units, he added. Where private groups are working to improve food safety, the Ministry of Health and Welfare should coordinate those efforts, Jiang said after a briefing by the health ministry on major food safety incidents and reform strategies. The premier said a coordinated effort among various government agencies is also needed to ensure food safety. "Black-hearted" (tainted or substandard) food products could endanger public health and severely affect Taiwan's industry, economy, international trade and national image, Jiang warned. After a plasticizer-tainted food incident in 2011, the health ministry revised the Act Governing Food Sanitation to impose harsher penalties on unscrupulous companies and ensure food safety through stricter regulations, Jiang noted. However, the latest food safety scandal involving edible oils showed that some unscrupulous food companies are still using cheaper substitutes in their products at the expense of the public's health, Jiang said. The food safety issue resurfaced after Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co., which sells edible oils under the Tatung brand, was found recently to have been adding 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. Jiang said the Cabinet should look closely at the issue and do its best to prevent a recurrence of similar incidents. (By Hsieh Chia-chen and Y.L. Kao)


Updated : 2021-04-15 04:53 GMT+08:00