Crack down on food safety violators

Taiwanese Executive Yuan’s new food safety inspection and crackdown team will begin examining edible oils on November 1 and expand to nationally certified food products by mid-November, officials said at a meeting of the cross-ministerial food safety task force. The team will first focus their attention on common items that are most influential to health, including oil, rice, soy sauce, holiday provisions, fruit juice, tea leaves, egg, bread, group ordered foods, milk, organic products, vegetarian food and honey. Inspections will begin from the point of manufacture and the scope of examination will be widened as warranted; nothing will be exempt. Businesses proven to have violated laws will face heavy punishment with their violations promptly announced to the public. The checks will be conducted on random items at unspecified times and locations.

Aside from finalizing the team’s operations, officials at today’s meeting, led by Vice Premier Mao Chi-kuo, also confirmed the roles of various ministries and agencies. To effectively crack down on food safety problems and protect consumers, central government agencies will work in concert with local authorities and agents and carry out focused inspections beginning with major food items. Twenty-two local governments across the country will also set up similar joint operations involving multiple agencies.

The new inspection team will be overseen by Executive Yuan ministers without portfolio Chang San-cheng and Jaclyn Tsai with the health and welfare minister and agriculture minister serving as deputy conveners. Members of the team will include leaders from the Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Economic Affairs, Environmental Protection Administration and Fair Trade Commission. Regular meetings will be scheduled every month and extraordinary meetings may be called as necessary. At the level of local governments, inspection teams will be formed with staff from different departments and headed by secretary-generals or higher-level officials. If necessary, the central government’s second reserve fund may be used to support local operations and enable the hiring of additional investigators.

During the meeting, the Ministry of Health and Welfare proposed amending the Act Governing Food Sanitation to deal more severe punishment to dishonest businesses that disregard laws and cause harm to consumers. The ministry also suggested setting up a national fund to compensate victims of food adulteration and providing higher rewards to citizen who report illegal practices. Finally, food recycling and disposal procedures should be established to enhance food safety, and indemnity mechanisms created to help distributors and consumers seek compensation.



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