Sat, Aug 19, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Legislator wants action on chocolate from China

NOT SO SWEET Lai Shin-yuan said that most chocolate products imported from China flouted the law as their packaging lacked information on their country of origin

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lai Shin-yuan holds up a bag of chocolate candy at a press conference yesterday. Lai called on the Department of Health and the Ministry of Economic Affairs to tighten safety checks on chocolate imported from China in order to guarantee the well being and health of the people of Taiwan.

PHOTO: CNA

Taiwan Solidarity Union Legislator Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) yesterday urged government agencies to strictly enforce laws and demand importers mark the country of origin on chocolate products from China.

Lai said the government officially opened its chocolate market to China's manufacturers in April, but chocolate products from China still do not follow the regulations of the Commodity Labeling Law (商品標示法).

According to the law, all products, be it local or imported, should contain information on their place of production. The Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) also requires all products contain information in Chinese.

She accused the Department of Health (DOH) and the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) in charge of passing the buck over the past three months and failing to guarantee consumer rights and food safety in a press conference.

Chocolate from China accounted for 12.25 percent of the nation's chocolate imports in May, but most of the products in question lacked information on where they were produced on their wrappers, she said.

"Lack of information on the origin of production also violates protocols of both the World Trade Organization and the United Nations," she said.

She hoped the government would stand firm on the implementation of regulations as Taiwanese products exported to China are all required to be marked "made in Taiwan" by the Chinese government.

The Taiwan Confectionery, Biscuit and Flour-based Food Industry Association secretary general Sunny Chen (陳朝陽), who was also present at the conference, said wholesalers in Taipei's Dihua Street import a large amount of Chinese chocolate.

"We can foresee that this problem will also occur with other products imported [from China]," he added.

Lai demanded the chief director of the DOH's Bureau of Food Safety Hsiao Tung-ming (蕭東銘) announce a regulation on Monday requiring that Chinese products contain information of their place of origin.

Although Hsiao said he agreed with Lai, he failed to make any promises at the conference. He said the bureau will respond to her appeal after further discussions with the MOEA.

Section chief of the MOEA's Department of Commerce Chen Wei-ta (陳威達) admitted at the conference that there may have been problems of coordination between the DOH and the ministry because commodity labels are covered by regulations from both departments.

Wang Shu-hui (王淑慧), a secretary of the Consumer Protection Commission, said the Consumer Protection Law (消費者保護法) demands more product information should be included on packaging after products have been imported.

She added that the relevant government agencies are obliged to review their enforcement of related regulations by law.

Countries such as Japan, the US, Canada and Singapore all require that imported products contain information on their packaging detailing their place of origin, according to the Bureau of Foreign Trade section chief Li Su-fen (李素芬).

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