Sat, Dec 07, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Consumers’ Foundation urges stricter rules on food product names, labeling

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

“Egg puddings that have no eggs and shrimp balls that have no shrimps” are just some of the food products that do not live up to their names, but there is nothing the public can do because of a lack of standards and regulations, the Consumers’ Foundation said yesterday.

Following a series of food scandals, including rice noodles that are not made of rice, olive oil adulterated with other cheaper oil, peanut oil with zero-peanut content and flavored milk products that have very little milk in them, the foundation said it had conducted a survey to see if other food products are also mislabeled or misnamed.

It found that at least 16 product samples randomly purchased from different markets, including candies, fruit jellies, cookies, instant noodles, beverages and frozen food, did not match the product name or label.

For example, the peach candies did not contain any peach, the lychee fruit jellies had zero-lychee content, the egg puddings were not made of eggs and the oyster vermicelli had no oyster, foundation secretary-general Lei Li-fen (雷立芬) said.

In addition, the so-called shrimp balls were made of a mixture of fish paste, starch, squid, other additives and “natural Monascus red pigment,” the foundation said.

“These products use a lot of food additives such as essences and food colorings,” Lei said. “Some used aspartame or a sugar substitute in snacks that are mostly favored by children and monosodium glutamate (MSG), which might cause allergies.”

“What should also be noted is that artificial food dyes, which were widely used in all of the samples, have been found to be linked to hyperactivity in children,” she added.

The foundation said it had conducted a similar survey two years ago, but there seems to have been little improvement.

“The authorities might impose a fine of up to NT$200,000 for mislabeling, but there are no clear regulations on dealing with incongruous food product names or labels and actual content,” Lei said, adding that the government should introduce stricter and more comprehensive rules.

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