Premier demands apology from China over melamine

PROBE: Liu Chao-shiuan said he would help fi rms seek compensation from Chinese manufacturers that had sold them contaminated products

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wed, Oct 01, 2008 - Page 1

Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) yesterday demanded an apology from China for allowing products contaminated with melamine to be exported to Taiwan.

“I hereby demand that the Chi-nese government apologize to us for the panic that the food safety problem in China has caused in Taiwan,” the premier said during a question-and-answer session at the legislature.

Liu made the remarks in re-sponse to a question from Demo-cratic Progressive Party Legislator Lee Chun-yee (李俊毅) on whether the government would demand an apology from China over the issue.

It was discovered two weeks ago that 25 tonnes of milk pow-der imported from China’s Sanlu Group in June as an ingredient for food manufacturing con-tained dangerously high levels of melamine.

Last week, offi cials discov-ered that some Chinese non-dairy creamers and malt extract imports were also contaminated with the chemical, resulting in a massive recall of products.

Liu said the government had taken several steps to ensure food safety in the wake of the dairy product scare, including dispatch-ing a delegation of health experts to China in a bid to establish a cross-strait food emergency chan-nel as well as food safety mecha-nisms that would be acceptable to both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

“The government’s policy is clear,” he said. “That is, the safety of all products on the nation’s store shelves must be ensured.”

The delegation returned home on Monday after a three-day trip to Beijing.

Liu vowed to help local busi-nesses that have suffered losses because of the milk powder scan-dal seek compensation from the Chinese manufacturers through negotiation between the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) and China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS).

He said the government was still compiling information on the losses incurred by domestic busi-nesses, but estimated the losses could add up to between NT$7 billion (US$217.6 million) and NT$8 billion if all of the products that have been pulled off shelves needed to be destroyed.

The government was still con-ducting a thorough investigation into the Chinese products that have been seized by the Depart-ment of Health to determine the extent of the Chinese manufactur-ers’ liability, Liu said.

Department of Health Minister Yeh Ching-chuan (葉金川) said at the question-and-answer session that about 1,000 bags of dairy in-gredients seized by her depart-ment had been confi rmed to have been contaminated by melamine.

However, she said, the depart-ment needed more proof that the tainted ingredients came from Chi-na’s Zhongshi Duqing (Shandong) Biotech Co before the government could seek compensation.

MAC Chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) said yesterday the government would establish with ARATS an offi cial food-safety alert channel for health offi cials within one week.

Also See: DOH, experts fail to reach agreement on melamineChina arrests 27 over melamine