Mon, Jun 06, 2011 - Page 3 News List

DPP lawmaker Hsu calls for new food safety labels

By Vincent Y. Chao  /  Staff Reporter, with CNA

A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker said yesterday a new government food safety certification regime should be created to replace the two principal systems that failed to prevent the widespread use of potentially harmful chemicals in food products.

Amid a tainted food scandal that continues to dominate headlines, DPP Legislator Hsu Tain-tsair (許添財) said many customers had lost confidence in the state’s ability to eliminate the use of banned chemicals in everyday products, foods and beverages, undermining the image of Taiwanese goods at home and abroad.

A new government certification, created especially to address such “loopholes” in the inspection process and add to the existing checks from the Certified Agricultural Standards (CAS) and Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) labels, would aim to allay such public concerns, Hsu said.

“Standing on the side of user-friendliness, the new certification would make the government hold responsibility for consumer safety. Not only would it aim to manage the source of the products, it would also monitor the entire [manufacturing] process,” he said.

The current certification regimes — the CAS and GMP labels — were created by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Council of Agriculture and are administered by industry groups.

Hsu said that direct public accountability, with government officials placed directly in charge of the new certification, was needed.

“If officials aren’t made responsible, then it means there is effectively no control,” Hsu said.

As it stands, when manufacturers don’t abide by health and safety practices, “they receive a fine, but there’s no real fear,” he said.

The proposed certification, which Hsu said he planned to introduce in the legislature, would serve as a form of safety guarantee, he said.

DPP lawmakers have already suggested they would back the proposal.

A statement given by the party yesterday said it would ask the government to consolidate the various food safety labels into a uniform platform “to better ensure public safety.”

A recent poll suggested almost seven in 10 members of the public said that they have lost confidence in the GMP label, citing the failure to discover the use of the chemical DEHP in clouding agents in sports drinks, juices, tea drinks, fruit syrup and tablets and powders.

DEHP, a category four substance, was also used to make flavorings and food coloring agents. Prolonged exposure has been linked to the stunted development of sex organs in males, hormone disruption and fertility problems.

The survey by the DPP showed that 67.9 percent of the public believed they or their families have at some point ingested goods containing the chemical.

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