The lifting of a ban on US beef containing a controversial leanness-enhancing drug has been chosen as this year’s top consumer news story in Taiwan, the Consumers’ Foundation said yesterday.
The issue of US beef imports ranked No. 1 because the government announced a lifting of the ban despite the fact that the matter remains highly controversial, foundation chairman Mark Chang (張智剛) said.
The publisher of the foundation’s Consumer Reports Magazine, Chen Chih-yi (陳智義), added that although the import of US beef containing ractopamine residues has been allowed, the foundation urges the government to remain alert to potential risks to public health.
The foundation listed the top five consumers’ issues as: lifting the ban on US beef that may contain ractopamine; the registration of real-estate transaction prices; the postponement of the adoption of the second-generation National Health Insurance program to next year and controversy over the supplementary premium; gas and electricity prices being increased and the high cost of Internet access together with slow connection speeds.
Other issues listed include plasticizers in food; an accident involving a tour bus that plunged into a valley near the village of Smangus (司馬庫斯) that has led to discussion on tour bus classification standards; the enactment of the Personal Data Protection Act (個人資料保護法) in October; controversial freeway toll charges based on distance traveled along with the electronic toll collection system and cable television prices.
The Department of Health (DOH) was the agency most commonly involved in the top 15 consumer news stories over a five-year period, featuring in eight, followed by the Ministry of the Interior (three) and the Executive Yuan (two), the foundation said.
Many major food safety issues have arisen in the past few years, including the import of US beef and the addition of plasticizers to food products, which shows the DOH needs to improve food safety management to prevent incidents that may jeopardize public health, Chang said.
The Ministry of the Interior was at fault over its incomplete registration system for real-estate transaction prices that has led to many complaints, while the Executive Yuan’s ad hoc task force was deemed to have failed to stabilize commodity prices, the foundation said.
The government agencies most at fault over consumer issues should engage in reviews and make concerted efforts to address problems affecting people’s daily lives, the foundation said.
Additional reporting by CNA