AmCham calls for food act revision

FLAVORING::AmCham warned the government that recent labeling amendments to the food sanitation act could harm local and international businesses

By Kevin Chen  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Jan 17, 2014 - Page 14

The American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei (AmCham) yesterday called for the government to reconsider amendments to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法), saying the new labeling regulations may cause harm to both food companies and consumers.

“If the law remains in its current form, it would affect the operations of both international and local Taiwanese food companies and could lead to consumers facing higher prices and/or less choice,” AmCham officials said in a statement.

The statement came as the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s newly amended food sanitation regulations requiring the listing of flavoring ingredients on the packaging of food products have reportedly irritated many foreign companies, as they demand both local and foreign food manufacturers to disclose flavors used in ingredients for their food products.

Local media reported earlier this week that the new revisions could expose global brands such as Coca-Cola Co to the risk of leaking their secret formula and might force them to pull out of Taiwan’s market because of the new regulations.

“Requiring the full disclosure of flavors used in ingredients would violate the trade secrets of the flavor suppliers and food and beverage companies and is against international industry practice,” AmCham said in the statement.

“Since production is frequently outsourced to OEM manufacturers, requiring the full disclosure of the name and contact information of the production plant is impractical, against international industry practice and compliance may force food companies to violate commercial agreements,” AmCham said.

“Disclosure of the local responsible business should be sufficient reference for consumers,” it added.

AmCham said it had not heard from its member companies regarding any intention to reduce their presence in Taiwan. However, the association said in the statement that respondents to its recent business sentiment survey had expressed dissatisfaction with bureaucratic obstacles to healthy business operations.

The survey, released on Thursday last week, also showed respondents expressed their demand for the government to provide greater consistency in regulatory interpretations, as well as the need to adhere to the rule of law and maintain transparency in the regulatory process. Coca-Cola said on Wednesday it was communicating with the relevant authorities and will not easily pull out of Taiwan because of new labeling regulations. It said the disclosure of flavoring ingredients is not in line with international practices in the food industry.

Additional reporting by CNA