May , 30 2013
To resolve the food safety problem arising from illegal additive in starch, the maleic anhydride, added maliciously by manufacturers, the Minister of the Department of Health, Wen-Ta Chiu, invited experts in food management and technology, public health, as well as medicine on May 26 to discuss what countermeasures to take. He also invited directors of city/county public health bureaus to hold a video conference on May 27; with the resolutions of the meeting, the 0527 project for food safety was launched:
1. Public health bureaus nationwide have completed an overall investigation and found 1 wholesaler and 3 distributors of maleic anhydride, as well as 8 manufacturers and 16 retailers who manufactured or sold starch containing maleic anhydride. A total of 206 tons of products that violate the regulations have been recalled, taken off the selves, sealed and stored, which will be destroyed by public health bureaus as soon as possible within one week.
2. Public health bureaus nationwide will conduct an overall inspection on all manufacturers and distributors of starch in their respective jurisdictions to ensure that all products that violate the regulations have been recalled and there is no illegal product that has been newly manufactured.
3. From now on, all suppliers of starch raw materials must provide a safety certificate to those who sell products containing starch raw materials, including flat rice noodles, round meat dumplings, oden, tapioca balls, tofu puddings, rice cakes, taro and sweet potato dumplings, etc. Vendors must make this certificate noticeable in their shops for consumers to verify.
4. From June 1 onwards, public health bureaus nationwide will launch an overall inspection. Those who are found to fail to provide a certificate or who have provided a false certificate, in addition to being found that their raw materials violate the regulations, will receive heavier punishment.
5. The process of amending the Act Governing Food Sanitation will be sped up, and heavier penalties and responsibilities will be imposed on business operators.
6. Rewards for reporting major food safety events will increase, and all citizens are encouraged to participate, in order to stop food safety violations.
7. Cross-departmental cooperation:
(1) A collaboration is formed among the Ministry of Justice, the Environmental Protection Administration, the Council of Labor Affairs, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Consumer Protection Committee of the Executive Yuan to strengthen the management of the source of raw materials for chemical industry and the protection of consumers’ rights.
(2) Manufacturers who have been found by the Bureau of Foreign Trade to have products that violate the regulations and have been publically announced should attach a certificate of conformity issued by a government recognized laboratory before exporting their products.
(3) The Department of Health and the Ministry of Economic Affairs will jointly hold a conference for starch-related industry, government and academia to reinforce assistance to and education of manufacturers.
It is hoped that through the measures such as overall inspection, amendments to laws and regulations, supervision of manufacturers and assistance to them, as well as increase of rewards for reporting major food safety events, consumers’ food safety can be improved and similar events can be prevented from happening again.