Sat, Jun 01, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Tough penalties for food abuses pass legislature

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Pan-green legislators hold up signs and chant slogans to express their demands during the last legislative plenary session in the legislature yesterday.

Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times

Tough penalties will be meted out to end abuses in the catering industry after the legislature passed an amendment yesterday in response to recent concerns over the safety of food products, amid a scandal in which industrial starch was found in some food items.

The legislature approved the amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) on the last day of the legislative session yesterday.

In addition to introducing life sentences for the use of banned food additives, it also raised fines for violations of related provisions to between NT$60,000 and NT$15 million (US$1,996 and US$499,000), from between NT$60,000 and NT$6 million.

According to the amendment, those guilty of manufacturing or importing and selling food products found to contained unapproved additives can be sentenced to seven years in prison, or life imprisonment and a fine of up to NT$20 million if the offense results in deaths.

In case of severe injuries associated with unapproved additives in food products, violators will be punishable by three years to 10 years in prison and receive a fine of up to NT$15 million.

Before the law was revised, it stipulated only that for acts committed to the detriment of human health, imprisonment of not more than seven years and a fine of NT$10 million shall be imposed. The penalty remained effective in the revised amendment.

Meanwhile, in order to prevent alcohol-impaired traffic accidents, the legislature approved an amendment to the Criminal Code to enhance penalties for drunk driving.

The bill lowered the standard ratio of breath-alcohol content for criminal charges of drunk driving from 0.55mg per liter to 0.25mg per liter, or a blood-alcohol content ratio of 0.05mg.

Under the revisions, a person who causes a death as a result of driving under the influence can be sentenced to jail for three to 10 years, from the current sentence of one to seven years.

The penalties for drunk drivers who are caught in hit-and-run cases and who cause serious injury to others were both increased from a sentence ranging from six months to five years in prison to a sentence ranging from one year to seven years in jail, the amendment said.

An amendment to the Act Governing Awarding of Degrees (學位授予法) also passed the legislature, under which those advertising for people to write theses, professional or technical reports, or other articles by proxy — along with the person doing the writing — can be fined between NT$200,000 and NT$1 million. The acts may result in repeated fines for each violation.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) proposed that an amendment to the Income Tax Act (所得稅法) to revise the capital gains tax clear the legislature yesterday to boost the sluggish stock market, but the Democratic Progressive Party, the Taiwan Solidarity Union and the People First Party opposed the motion because their views on the issue were not accepted by the KMT.

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