The Ministry of Economic Affairs yesterday said it would unveil revisions to the government’s good manufacturing practices (GMP) guidelines by the end of next month, in order to regain consumer confidence in food.
“You can’t paint everyone with the same brush,” Minister of Economic Affairs Chang Chia-juch (張家祝) told the legislature’s Economics Committee, adding that only four of 14 food companies have been found to be violating the GMP guidelines.
“It would be wrong to cancel the entire GMP system just because some firms broke the rules,” Chang said.
“As there is still a need for a standardized framework to regulate food manufacturers, the ministry will seek to enhance the current system,” he added.
Several food manufacturers have recently been caught adulterating their oil products, including Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co (大統長基), Formosa Oilseed Processing Co (福懋), Flavor Full Foods (富味鄉) and Ting Hsin International Group (頂新集團).
While only part of their assembly lines were approved by the government’s current GMP guidelines, these companies labeled all their food products as GMP-certified.
To rebuild consumers’ confidence in the GMP system, a task force has been formed to review the evaluation process, Chang said.
In addition to requiring food makers to submit manufacturing records on a routine basis, even after being GMP-certified, the ministry is considering issuing GMP certification only when all assembly lines meet the guidelines, he added.
“The revision will be comprehensive and a report covering every possible option should be available as soon as next month,” Chang said when asked to provide a clear timeline.
Chang said the ministry plans to release a report on soy bean oil, beverages and juice on Thursday next week, following last month’s unveiling of a report about 128 cooking oils.
The ministry plans to publish a report covering 3,622 GMP-certified food products on Jan. 28, he added.
However, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Lin Tai-hua (林岱樺) told the committee that the ministry’s food security checks are inadequate.
“The ministry must speed up and publish all of its food tests once they are available, or no one will know what to buy to celebrate Lunar New Year,” Lin said.
She also said there were concerns about whether the report would affect consumer purchases during the Lunar New Year holidays and drag down the country’s GDP growth in the first quarter of next year.