The Consumers’ Foundation yesterday named the six most important news stories of the year in merchandising, with unsafe food products, such as melamine-tainted milk products from China, topping the list.
The melamine scandal was sparked in September when contaminated milk powder produced by China’s Sanlu Group entered the Taiwanese market and was distributed to various parts of the country.
Melamine, an industrial chemical used in plastics, had been added to milk products to give a false reading on protein content. Excessive consumption of melamine can cause kidney stones or kidney failure.
PHOTO: LIU LI-JEN, TAIPEI TIMES
To address public concern, the Department of Health resorted to offering free kidney check-ups at hospitals across the country.
The foundation criticized the department, however, for its poor handling of the situation by giving it the “Very Bad Award.”
The department’s actions led to a loss of confidence in the safety of food products and must be condemned, foundation deputy secretary-general Gaston Wu (吳家誠) told a press conference in Taipei yesterday.
In the private sector, RT Mart, Fonterra and Nestle Taiwan all received the “Very Black Award” — “black” standing for black-hearted products — by the foundation for poor business practices during the melamine scandal.
A foundation’s list showed that unsafe food products included melamine-tainted milk products, rice wine laced with industrial chemicals and animal feed tainted with ractopamine.
“If consumers lack the necessary information about food products, they are vulnerable to being exposed to food products that could harm them,” Wu said.
He urged consumers to actively seek information about the products they buy to be on the safe side.
“Overall, this was a sad, depressing and helpless year for consumers,” he said.
921 EARTHQUAKE: The magnitude 7.3 quake left 2,456 people dead and 10,718 injured, while 53,661 houses were fully destroyed and 53,024 houses damaged The Central Weather Bureau yesterday received about 50,000 views on Facebook after it posted the data that it collected on Sept. 21, 1999, when the nation was devastated by a magnitude 7.3 earthquake. The data showed that the 921 Earthquake hit the nation at 1:47am, with the epicenter being 7km southwest of the bureau’s quake detection center in Nantou County’s Yuchi Township (魚池) at a depth of 8km. The quake left 2,456 people dead and 10,718 injured, while 53,661 houses were fully destroyed and 53,024 houses damaged, with the cost of the damage estimated at NT$300 billion (US$10.8 billion at the current
British newspaper The Mail on Sunday reported that Prince Charles met with Bruno Wang (汪家興), a Taiwanese fugitive who describes himself as a Chinese philanthropist and donated ￡500,000 (US$683,522) to the prince’s charity, the Prince’s Foundation. The newspaper reported that Wang is wanted in Taiwan on charges related to money laundering and being a fugitive from justice, allegations he denies, and drew comparisons between Wang and the Russian banker Dmitry Leus. Investigation and cooperation with foreign authorities have found that Bruno Wang’s father, Andrew Wang (汪傳浦), had stashed proceeds from a scandal involving the procurement of Lafayette frigates in 61 bank accounts,
AT ODDS: The KMT called on the government to seek bilateral dialogue with Beijing to resolve the issue that led to the ban on custard apple and wax apple imports Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) officials and lawmakers yesterday condemned China’s sudden ban on imports of custard apples and wax apples from Taiwan as “obvious political retaliation,” while the opposition called for a scientific investigation into Beijing’s claim to have found pests in imports of the fruits. China earlier yesterday announced a ban on the importation of the two fruits from today, citing repeated discoveries of Planococcus minor, a type of mealybug. The announcement follows a similar ban on Taiwanese pineapples imposed in February. At least Beijing gave a few days’ notice when it banned pineapple imports, an unnamed government official said yesterday. This time
BY OTHER MEANS: China could see CPTPP membership as a means of circumventing trade restrictions imposed by the US, amid an ongoing trade dispute between them The US could invoke a clause in its trade agreement with Canada and Mexico to block China’s application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a government official said yesterday. Under Article 32.10 of the Exceptions and General Provisions of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), if either Canada or Mexico enter a free-trade agreement with a nonmarket economy — such as China — the US could withdraw from the agreement. “If that clause applies to multilateral free-trade agreements such as the CPTPP — which Mexico and Canada are members of — that might be cause for the two