The Consumers’ Foundation yesterday announced the top 10 consumer-related news stories of the year, with US beef topping the list.
The consumer rights watchdog said in the past year, there had been many instances of consumer-related news and events that were a cause of concern. The foundation said news of a suspected case of mad cow disease was an alarm signal that amendments made to the Food Hygiene Act (食品衛生管理法) that allowed imports of US beef had been hasty and unwise.
In May, a 36-year-old man who had lived in the UK between 1989 and 1997 died after displaying symptoms that led doctors to believe that he was likely the victim of Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD).
Scientists believe that many years after eating cattle infected with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), commonly known as mad cow disease, humans can develop symptoms of new variant CJD (vCJD), also known as human mad cow disease.
As the man’s family refused to give doctors permission to perform an autopsy, the department could not list the patient as a confirmed case of vCJD. His body has since been cremated.
Foundation chairperson Joann Su (蘇錦霞) said that the case highlights a lack of consumer protection against eating unsafe food products and urged health authorities to step up action to address the issue.
The Department of Health (DOH) was also the target of the foundation’s second major consumer news item of the year, which was the “second generation health plan fiasco.”
“The DOH failed to focus on problems that are just as important as the premium rates and income base, such as gaps in drug compensation prices and waste of medical resources,” Su said, adding that the department’s repeated backtracking and failure to convince even ruling party lawmakers only added to the difficulty of health insurance system reform.
Other consumer news that made the top 10 list included inappropriate calculation of real estate surface areas, unreasonable additions to electronic toll collection lanes, soaring telecom service rates and limited price decreases for cross-strait flights.