High additive levels found
Slightly more than one-fifth of preserved food items tested in Taipei recently were found to contain excessive levels of additives, city health authorities said yesterday. Random checks on 100 preserved food products at department stores, malls, convenience stores and traditional markets revealed that 21 preserved fruit and vegetable items were found to contain excessive levels of preservatives, colorings, bleach and saccharin, the city’s health department said. Some of the products, typically eaten over the Lunar New Year period, were found to contain saccharin levels 27 times the permitted amount, Taipei Food and Drug Division director Chen Li-chi (陳立奇) said. Chen said the department had told the relevant businesses to pull the substandard items off the shelves and has imposed fines of between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000. Among the 42 preserved vegetables inspected, 13 failed tests. Seven out of the 48 preserved fruits failed to pass the tests, while one out of 10 dried vegetables did not pass, Chen said.
WTO head may visit
WTO director-general Pascal Lamy will be invited to visit Taiwan in June for the 10th anniversary celebration of the country’s accession to the world regulatory body, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said yesterday. To mark the anniversary, the ministry’s Bureau of Foreign Trade said it is organizing a series of activities in June that will include international seminars and speeches by trade officials, experts and business leaders from around the world. Lamy will be invited to attend the celebrations and if he accepts, he would be the highest-ranking WTO official to visit Taiwan, the bureau said.
PSI updated twice daily
The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) said it has increased the frequency of its air quality forecasts from once to twice a day, starting from yesterday, so the public can check the latest air quality conditions on its Web site. The air quality forecast shows the three-day Pollutant Standards Index (PSI), which measures concentrations of PM10 (fine particles in the air smaller than 10 micrometers in size), sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone nationwide. The administration said the daily air quality was largely influenced by weather conditions and it has cooperated with the Central Weather Bureau since 2008 to gain complementary information. The air quality forecasts will be updated at 10:30am and 5pm daily.
Dictionary nears completion
The first stage of an online dictionary featuring the differences between the traditional Chinese characters used in Taiwan and the simplified version used in China will be launched next month at the earliest, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday. The dictionary will compare traditional and simplified Chinese characters and also list different expressions used on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, as a mark of respect for such differences, Ma said. Compiled by Taiwan’s General Association of Chinese Culture (GACC) and academics from China, the dictionary has about 30,000 completed entries and people will be able to access it as soon as next month, Ma said while attending a Chinese character festival in Taipei, accompanied by GACC president Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌).