Fri, Nov 21, 2008 - Page 3 News List

Cabinet approves creation of food and drug administration

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Cabinet yesterday approved the creation of a Taiwan Food and Drug Administration (TFDA), an effort by the government to integrate the Department of Health’s food and medicine screening mechanisms.

During a briefing to reporters after the Cabinet’s weekly meeting yesterday, Minister of Health Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川) said such an agency, if established, would be responsible for the management and examination of food and drugs and the prevention of the abuse of controlled drugs.

Personnel would be dispatched to each sea port and airport for food and drug examinations, Yeh said. The administration would also be in charge of developing the nation’s biotechnology industry and new medical technologies, such as blood products and stem cell research, Yeh said.

“We will be able to directly mobilize personnel [in response to food scares],” Yeh said. “The establishment of such an administration will be another important landmark in Taiwan’s food and drug safety [history].”

Yeh said the government hoped the legislature would prioritize the draft bill in the current legislative session so that the TFDA could be created early next year. It is expected to include some 600 staffers, experts and researchers, he said.

The Department of Health first began discussing the idea of establishing a food and drug administration about a decade ago, but the draft was not finalized until yesterday.

Yeh dismissed speculation that the planned establishment of the TFDA was entirely in response to recent food scares emanating from China, adding that many food stuffs were also imported from South and Southeast Asia.

Yeh said personnel from the administration would have the authority to inspect the sources of food stuffs in China in line with the cross-strait food safety agreement recently signed by the Straits Exchange Foundation and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait.

Examination of food stuffs from China would also be conducted in Taiwan, he said.

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