With more government-certified edible oil producers being accused of falsely labeling and adulterating products, Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Hsu Chung-hsin (許忠信) yesterday called for the abolition of the government’s Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and Certified Agricultural Standard (CAS) accreditation systems.
“The public counts on [government] certification labels when purchasing food products because they are not able to determine their quality,” Hsu said.
However, the government’s credibility had been called into question following recent food scandals involving products from rice distributor Chyuan Shun Food Enterprise Co and cooking oil producer Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co, both of which were certified by the GMP and the CAS, Hsu said.
“The incidents demonstrate the need for the abolishment of the two accreditation systems to avoid consumer confusion,” Hsu said.
Chyuan Shun was embroiled in controversy in August after its rice products — labeled as locally grown — were found to be a mixture of cheaper Vietnamese rice and Taiwanese rice.
Chang Chi is at the center of the latest food scare after revelations earlier this month that its olive oil products contained illegal additives and mixtures, such as low-cost cottonseed oil, which can affect human fertility.
The scare intensified yesterday after an inspection report presented by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Wei-cher (黃偉哲) showed that baby-food brand Standard Foods Co also allegedly falsely labeled its edible oil products.
In response, Chen Chao-jung (陳昭蓉), deputy director at the Industrial Development Bureau’s Consumer Goods and Chemical Industries Division, said only 17 of the 134 products Chang Chi sent for accreditation were granted a GMP label, none of which contained copper complex chlorophyllin or cottonseed oil.
“The government has taken a more stringent approach in managing food safety after the legislature passed a revised version of the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) in June. Although Chang Chi’s products have been wrongly labeled, there is no problem with the GMP accreditation system itself,” Chen said.
Bureau Deputy Director Lu Cheng-hua (呂正華) said the GMP system had developed a certain level of credibility since it was established in 1989 and that abolishing it without trying to improve it first would be like “putting the cart before the horse.”