Labeling rules tightened
Starting July 1, vegetable food manufacturers will be fined between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000 if they do not accurately label their products to help vegetarians avoid meat or animal byproducts, the Department of Health said yesterday. Food Safety Department official Feng Jun-lan (馮潤蘭) said five categories would be established. There are 2 million vegetarians in Taiwan and the department often receives complaints about unclear food labels or vegetarian foods containing meat products, Feng said. Manufacturers would also face a fine of between NT$40,000 and NT$200,000 if their vegetarian products are found to contain meat or related products.
Lunch program to grow
Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) said all elementary and junior high school students could receive free lunches, starting in the next school year. He said a NT$17.2 billion (US$498 million) budget would be earmarked to finance the nationwide program, which would begin in September at the earliest. The Executive Yuan has already budgeted NT$1.2 billion this year to help low and middle-income families hurt by sudden disasters, Liu said, and part of that money subsidizes school lunches for their children. At a legislative question-and-answer session, he told Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) that he would meet with local government heads to study the possibility of providing free lunches to all elementary and junior high school students, regardless of income. Some local authorities, including those in Taitung, Changhua, Miaoli and Hsinchu counties, have already started implementing such a program, Tsai said.
Farming proves popular
A Kaohsiung County plan aimed at getting jobless workers into farming proved more popular than anticipated, with 300 people applying for 90 spots, Kaohsiung County Commissioner Yang Chiu-hsing (楊秋興) said yesterday. The program will be run on a 20-hectare plot leased from state-run Taiwan Sugar Co by the county’s Agricultural Affairs Bureau, Yang said. Given the huge number of applicants, priority will be given to those made redundant, Yang said. Participants will have their land rental fees paid for by the government for two years and receive a start-up bonus of NT$2,000. If the program proves successful, the county will consider expanding it by leasing another 25 hectares, Yang said.
Museum plans symposium
The National Palace Museum (NPM) will hold a cross-strait academic symposium in October to coincide with a planned exhibition on the Qing Dynasty’s Emperor Yongzheng, museum Director Chou Kung-shin (周功鑫) said. Chou said on Monday that he had proposed the seminar after reaching several agreements with Zheng Xinmiao (鄭欣淼), director of Beijing’s National Palace Museum, in recent weeks. Most of the exhibits will be from the NPM’s collection, while others will be loaned by Beijing, Chou said. The symposium will focus on topics related to Yongzheng, Chou said, adding that Zheng would be invited to attend, along with the curators of the British Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Musee d’Orsay, the Louvre and the Versailles museum.