Sat, Nov 09, 2013 - Page 3 News List

MOEA cracks down on labeling

RIGHT REVOKED:The ministry has stripped several manufacturers of their right to put a GMP certificate on their products in a bid to restore public faith in the certificate

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) yesterday said a test of 129 products on the market revealed that the ingredients in one of Cheng I Food Co Ltd’s (正義) cooking oils do not match the proportions indicated on its packaging.

As a result, Cheng I is no longer allowed to put a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certificate on any of its products, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Woody Duh (杜紫軍) told a press conference.

The ministry said Cheng I claimed that its so-called canola-olive blended oil comprises 30 percent canola oil, 30 percent olive oil and 40 percent blended cooking oil. However, the ministry discovered that the product contains very little canola or olive oil.

The ministry contracted food specialists to check the contents of products from 14 cooking oil companies that have been required to submit documents about the items’ ingredients. Specialists found that Cheng I used very small amounts of canola oil and olive oil to make their canola-olive oil, and the ingredients’ proportion did not match the amounts on its label.

While the offending product is not harmful to one’s health, the ministry said it is revoking Cheng I’s rights to use GMP certificates on its products as part of the government’s bid to ensure firms produce high-quality products that adhere to GMP guidelines.

The ministry yesterday also took away Ting Hsin International Group’s (頂新集團) right to use GMP labels, after the Pingtung County Government on Thursday ruled that Ting Hsin violated the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) by mixing up to 21 of its cooking oils with Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co’s (大統長基) adulterated oil.

Sing-lin Foods Corp (興霖) is also not allowed to use the GMP certification anymore because the instant noodle maker’s products were found to contain sodium copper chlorophyllin — a food colorant — which is in violation of the act as the coloring agent is only allowed in certain categories of foods, the ministry said.

“The ministry is working on a way to revive consumers’ confidence in GMP-labeled products,” Duh said.

Separately yesterday, Ministry of Health and Welfare spokesman Wang Che-chao (王哲超) said the government will impose the heaviest possible penalty on violators caught adulterating and mislabeling edible oils, adding that the suppliers of such products will be referred to prosecutors for possible prosecution on fraud charges.

At present, the maximum fine for adulterating food products is NT$15 million (US$510,000) and NT$200,000 for mislabeling.

The Food and Drug Administration launched a nationwide investigation into local edible oil products in the middle of last month after Chang Chi, which sells edible oils under the Tatung brand, was found to have added cheaper cottonseed oil and sodium copper chlorophyllin to some of its products to save costs.

On Nov. 1, the ministry launched an intensive week-long inspection of edible oils sold around the country, which Wang said was aimed at pushing suppliers to be responsible and to voluntarily correct any product irregularities.

Random checks have been planned and any manufacturers found to have mislabeled their products will face serious consequences starting yesterday, he said.

The ministry is also planning to take similar actions regarding other food items that it thinks are likely to be mislabeled, such as soy sauce, tea leaves, fruit juices and milk, Wang said.

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