Wed, Nov 06, 2013 - Page 1 News List

Mislabeled vinegars add to widening food scandal

SOUR TASTE:The latest blow to the food industry was dealt when authorities found 13 of 16 vinegars inspected were mislabeled, and follows a scare over adulterated oils

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporter

A recent food safety inspection has revealed that more than 80 percent of vinegars are falsely labeled, the Taipei City Government said yesterday.

The inspection randomly sampled 16 vinegar products sold at supermarkets and hypermarkets were, with 13 found to be incorrectly labeled.

The Taipei City Department of Health said that falsely labeling food is a violation of the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法), which stipulates a fine of up to NT$3 million (US$100,000) for manufacturers caught mislabeling their products.

Taipei Food and Drug Division Director Chiu Hsiu-yi (邱秀儀) said that the 13 vinegars that failed to meet regulations bore labels that did not list all their ingredients or an expiration date.

Red wine and spicy vinegar from Ta An Kong Yen Foods Co (大安工研食品公司), Taiwan Tobacco & Liquor Corp’s (台灣菸酒公司) rice vinegar and Carrefour-brand white vinegar were among the products found to have violated regulations and the three manufacturers will be instructed to change the labels, Chiu said.

None of the 16 vinegars tested had been adulterated with illicit substances, she added.

The inspection was conducted in the wake of a food safety scandal that broke when it was found that many edible oils had been either adulterated or falsely advertised.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare has vowed to enhance food inspection mechanisms and amend the act to deter illegal behavior in the manufacturing and advertising of food products.

Another measure the ministry is mulling to improve food safety is lowering the labeling threshold of genetically modified raw materials contained in food products from 5 percent to 0.9 percent.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Taipei City Councilor Li Ken Kui-fang (厲耿桂芳) said the health department had investigated 325 cases of false food product labeling over the past five years, for which NT$10 million in fines have been levied.

Such cases have become one of the nation’s biggest health problems — second only to exaggerated advertising of medicines and related products — so central and local authorities need to pay more attention to the issue and enhance safety mechanisms, she said.

The department said it would continue its efforts to improve inspections of major food items.

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