Sat, May 28, 2011 - Page 3 News List

FOOD SCARE WIDENS: Lawmakers mull harsher punishment for safety violations

Staff Writer, with CNA

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) lawmakers yesterday proposed health authorities punish food safety violations on a case-by-case basis to ensure that unscrupulous merchants are heavily penalized.

A political storm was triggered when a Food and Drug Administration inspector recently uncovered di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, or DEHP, in a food supplement, leading to further discoveries of the chemical in sports drinks and dietary supplements.

‘CLOUDY AGENT’

The source of contamination was traced back to a food additive from Yu Shen Chemical Co called a “cloudy agent,” commonly used in fruit jelly, yogurt mix powder, juice and other drinks.

KMT caucus whip Hsieh Kuo-liang (謝國樑) said manufacturers who knowingly adulterate food with toxic substances or sell such products should be charged with attempted murder.

At present, the maximum fine stipulated in the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) for such violations is NT$300,000 (US$10,300).

According to an amendment to the law proposed by KMT Legislator Huang Yi-chiao (黃義交), the maximum fine would be raised to NT$5 million, and in the event of serious violations, an offender could have his or her license revoked.

PRISON TERM

The bill also says that if a violation is determined to have had a serious impact on public health, offenders face a prison sentence of up to seven years and a maximum fine of NT$10 million, whereas the current maximum is three years and a NT$900,000 fine.

Meanwhile, KMT Legislator Lin Te-fu (林德福) urged prosecutors to temporarily freeze the assets of Yu Shen Chemical Co to prevent the owner from disposing of them.

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