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Talk of the Day -- Food safety scandals may take toll on GDP

Talk of the Day -- Food safety scandals may take toll on GDP

Repeated food safety scandals could affect Taiwan's gross domestic product (GDP), the head of the Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics (DGBAS) said Thursday. Fielding questions in a meeting of the Legislative Yuan's Finance Committee, DGBAS Minister Shih Su-mei said food safety scandals could discourage private consumption and thus adversely affect the country's GDP growth. Nevertheless, Shih said, it remains to be seen how badly the recent edible oil scandal would affect the economy as private consumption is only one the many factors that contribute to annual GDP growth.
The following are excerpts from local media coverage of food safety issues and the possible effects on economic growth prospects: United Evening News: Opposition Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsueh Ling asked Shih during the Finance Committee meeting if her agency had lowered its GDP growth projection after a food scare in May that was sparked by the discovery of a banned industrial starch in certain foods.
Hsueh further asked whether the DGBAS would cut its 2013 GDP growth forecast amid the current edible oil adulteration scandal. In response, Shih said the DGBAS indeed had lowered its GDP growth forecast in May, but this was due to a combination of factors, not simply because of the "toxic starch" scare. The DGBAS is scheduled to release its updated GDP growth estimate on Nov. 29.
"As the oil adulteration scandal could affect private consumption, the nation's GDP growth would be at stake. But the extent of the impact requires further observation and study," Shih said. (Oct. 24, 2013). Liberty Times: Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin said a spate of food safety scandals have undermined public confidence in the government's ability to protect public health.
The mayor, however, stopped short of saying that Minister of Health and Welfare Chiu Wen-ta should be held accountable for the series of food safety scandals, including a plasticizer contamination scare in 2011, the "toxic starch" issue in May and the recent edible oil controversy. Instead, Hau said the government should tighten monitoring and testing to prevent food processors from using illegal or banned additives in their products.
Unscrupulous food processors should not only be slapped with heavy fines but should also be given prison sentences because it's a crime, similar to murder, to sell foods containing toxic ingredients or additives. (Oct. 24, 2013).
United Daily News: Kang Chao-chou, a former head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Ministry of Health and Welfare, said the government should assign more more manpower to food safety monitoring. "Otherwise, more food safety scandals would arise in the future," Kang warned. In the past, Kang said, the main issue for the FDA was food contamination. "Nowadays, we are dealing with the problem of fraudulent food production practices. Investigative methods and regulations should be updated to cope with the harsher challenges ahead," he added. (Oct. 24, 2013). (By Sofia Wu)


Updated : 2021-07-31 05:12 GMT+08:00