Hundreds of people dressed in black protested yesterday in front of Liberty Square at the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei against a proposed policy to lift the ban on meat that contains lean-meat additives.
Holding electric candles, the crowd of about 600 participants set out on a silent march toward Ketagalan Boulevard at sunset, which organizers said symbolized the coming of a dark food-safety era in Taiwan.
The rally was organized by the National Food Safety Alliance and included people from more than 100 civic groups who were calling for a complete ban on lean-meat additives, the disclosure of food safety policies and public participation in the policymaking process.
“How can we let our children grow up eating food with so many unknown additives?” said Chen Man-li (陳曼麗), chairwoman of the Homemakers United Foundation and convener of the rally. “Many of us came here today because we are not satisfied with how food safety is managed.”
“It is wrong for the government to treat people like fools and use harsh means to execute its policies,” Chen said.
“Stop fooling us with the 16 characteristics of food safety management. Recently, people have become fearful of food,” National Association for the Promotion of Community University executive director Kao Ju-ping (高茹萍) said. “The government has not given us a positive response that we can rely on.”
Kao said the quality of food products in Taiwan was still mainly determined by the producers, while consumer awareness in the EU is at the forefront of discussion.
“I hope Taiwanese consumers will have more access to information about food safety,” she said.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said if the US can sell meat that does not contain lean-meat additives to EU countries, then it can certainly sell the same meat to Taiwan.
“When Food and Drug Administration Director-General Kang Jaw-jou (康照洲) answered my question last week on how much would it cost for lot-by-lot inspections of US beef imports, he estimated that it would cost about NT$100 million [US$3.4 million] per year,” Tien said, adding that the money would be better spent on doing inspections at slaughter houses in the US.
“As a mother of two kids, I already felt that it was difficult to prepare safe food for my family ... I usually buy ingredients from sources I trust, and avoid traditional markets and hypermarkets, but if the ban on meat with lean-meat additives is lifted, I won’t be able to tell which product has the additives and which doesn’t,” a woman surnamed Chang (張) from Greater Taichung said.
Pointing to her two elementary and pre-school aged children, who also joined the rally and were holding paper shields to symbolize the blocking of unsafe food, Chang said both kids were at an important stage of their growth and should not be exposed to possible danger from unsafe food.
“The government should be responsible for food safety management from its point of origin, because sometimes the dealers also become victims as they don’t always have the expertise to examine the products for additives,” she said.
She added that labeling that identifies the source of the product is not enough to prove its safety, but felt that implementing a system that could trace food products would be more effective.
Chang Hung-lin (張宏林), executive director of Citizen’s Congress Watch and a co-convener of the rally, said the controversial modification of the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) should be disclosed and discussed, and the government should explain its decision to legislators and those who still hold doubts.
The Cabinet could discuss and pass its own package of draft amendments to ease the ban on US beef imports this week, which would require further approval from the legislature.
SPEEDING ELETRIC VEHICLES: Available without license requirements, the low-cost vehicles, especially if illicitly modified, can often reach a dangerous speed The government should crack down on illegal electric bicycles and scooters, the non-profit Consumers’ Foundation said on Friday, citing research on the potentially dangerous speed of the vehicles. Electric bicycles and lightweight electric scooters have gained popularity as they do not require registration and riders do not need licenses, the foundation said, adding that as many as 40 percent of them can reach speeds exceeding the legal limit of 25kph for non-licensed two-wheelers. Some consumers also purchased legal electric vehicles and modified them to reach higher speeds, it said. “If the government does not step up efforts to confiscate these
‘RELIABLE PARTNER’: US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar praised the ‘Taiwan model,’ saying that the nation brought its spirit to its COVID-19 response The first memorandum of understanding (MOU) on health cooperation between the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the US Department of Health and Human Services was yesterday signed at the Centers for Disease Control in Taipei. The memorandum was signed between the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the US, by AIT Director Brent Christensen and Taiwan Council for US Affairs Chairperson Jen-ni Yang (楊珍妮). US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) witnessed the signing of the memorandum, designed to enhance the nations’
Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) yesterday tweeted a welcome to Somaliland’s first representative to Taiwan, Mohamed Omar Hagi Mohamoud, who arrived on Friday. Mohamoud had “braved Chinese pressure” to take up his new post, Wu wrote. “The fact ‘sovereignty & friendship aren’t for sale’ deserves international recognition,” referring to a Somaliland media report earlier this month that Somaliland President Muse Bihi Abdi had rejected an offer by the Chinese government in exchange for ending its rapprochement with Taiwan. Wu also thanked the US National Security Council (NSC) for praising Taiwan-Somaliland ties. A council tweet on July 10 praised Taiwan
The Taipei City Government yesterday said that construction on the long-suspended Taipei Dome can resume immediately, after it approved a request by the project’s main contractor, Farglory Group. In a statement, the Taipei Construction Management Office said that after it on July 16 issued a new building permit, Farglory submitted revised design plans and an application to resume construction, which the office approved on Friday. Construction had been suspended on the dome, near the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall in Xinyi District (信義), for more than five years due to disagreements between the city and the company over the safety of some of