The Cabinet yesterday said it has set up a task force to conduct spot checks on food products to help restore public confidence in food safety, following a series of scandals in the past month.
Products that carry government-certified labels, such as those for Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and Certified Agricultural Standards (CAS), along with daily necessities would be in the first batch to be inspected, Minister Without Portfolio Simon Chang (張善政) told a press conference.
That batch would include edible oils, rice, soy oil, juice, tea, eggs, bread, milk, products labeled as organic or vegetarian, honey and festival foods, he added.
Other kinds of food items could be placed on the priority list as soon as the commission finds something abnormal, for example imports of material banned as a food additive by a food producer, Chang said.
In the past, the Ministry of Health and Welfare and local health authorities have looked into problems associated with food safety issues only when they receive tips-off, but “now we will take the initiative to discover problematic food products,” Chang said.
The commission, composed of vice heads of related Cabinet agencies, is to be funded by an Executive Yuan reserve fund, Chang said.
He urged local health authorities to follow suit by augmenting the size of their budgets and the number of personnel conducting food safety inspections because “they are on the frontline of the battle to safeguard public health.”
The commission is headed by Chang and newly appointed Minister Without Portfolio Tsai Yu-ling (蔡玉玲).
Chang said the commission would immediately disclose any information concerning problematic food products and seek to punish the producers in accordance with the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法).
The Cabinet also plans to establish a system to categorize different types of food safety incidents as those involving products carrying false labeling or unclear labels, but not harmful to health, or products containing ingredients detrimental to health, he added.
Separately yesterday, the ministry said it had identified 37 edible oil products which may have labels which do not reflect their actual contents.
The products that are possibly mislabeled include those made by Taisun Enterprise Co (泰山企業) and Ting Hsin International Group (頂新集團), Food and Drug Administration official Pan Chih-kuan (潘志寬) said.
The ministry has instructed local governments’ health authorities to conduct inspections of the factories producing the products, Pan added.
Additional reporting by CNA