President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday oversaw the destruction of food products containing banned additives in Changhua County, pledging that the government would improve food inspection mechanisms to ensure food safety.
About 12 tonnes of juice powders that were recalled after they were found to contain di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, or DEHP, were destroyed at the Sijhou Refuse Incineration Plant as part of a nationwide effort to eliminate the toxic food products amid a food scare that started when DEHP, a substance that is potentially harmful to human health, was discovered late last month to have been added to clouding agents used in many food products.
Accompanied by Cabinet officials, including Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), Ma said the battle against the food scare was not over yet, and called on businesses to cooperate with government plans.
“D-Day does not mean the end of our fight against DEHP and V-Day is not here yet. We are still clearing out the battlefield. The government will enhance the management of food additive manufacturers and will heavily punish those who violate the regulations. We will work harder to provide food traceability so consumers know what they are eating,” Ma said at the plant.
The Department of Health had set May 31 as “D-Day,” by which time companies had to provide certificates proving that their goods did not contain six specified chemicals or else face having their products banned.
The disposal operation yesterday was part of a nationwide effort to destroy tainted food. According to local health authorities, a total of 14.516 tonnes of DEHP-tainted powders, beverages and capsules were incinerated yesterday in Greater Taichung and 1.651 tonnes in New Taipei City (新北市). Up to 89 tonnes of contaminated sports drinks will be disposed of within the next five working days at designated water sewage treatment plants, the Greater Kaohsiung Government said.
Meanwhile, in Taipei City yesterday, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection and Health destroyed 2.3 tonnes of food products from five companies at the Muzha Refuse Incineration Plant, including jams, yogurt powders and tablets.
Wu Sheng-chung (吳聖忠), head of the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, said the products were burned at a temperature of 850oC and the waste will be processed to prevent any pollution from the ash.
The probe into contaminated products has expanded to cover six plasticizers that have tainted food and beverage products in five categories: sports drinks, juices, tea drinks, fruit jams or syrups and tablets or powders.
On Friday, the legislature passed an amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) to enforce stricter penalties for the manufacture and sale of food or food additives that are toxic or contain substances that are harmful to human health, or are contaminated by pathogens, among others.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY CNA