Academia Sinica has urged the government to establish a Cabinet standing committee to take control of food safety and environmental pollution, and to step up communication across government.
The advice was contained within the research institute’s latest report, Recommendation for the Maintenance of National Food Safety and the Prevention of Environmental Toxins, now in its 11th edition.
Academia Sinica said its policy recommendation has come as a result of water, air and land pollution and the overuse of drugs — such as melamine, plasticizers and pesticides — disrupting chemicals and heavy metals.
The National Environmental Health Research Center should assume the role of a national risk assessment and knowledge center that conducts regular meetings across government, rather than holding the current inter-agency food and drug safety meetings convened by the vice premier, the institute said.
The National Environmental Health Research Center should advise Cabinet and also be responsible for disseminating scientific knowledge to the public, it said.
Other recommendations include supporting investigations into the causes and impacts of diseases; establishing a database of how cells relate to toxins and a Taiwanese bank of induced pluripotent stem cells — a source of cells that can be used to replace damaged cells; and establishing an early warning system for patients to spot organ damage.
The institute also called for improvements in awareness-raising and monitoring of food allergies — which negatively affect 5 percent to 10 percent of the population, or 2 million Taiwanese.
“Foods such as nuts, milk, eggs and wheat are some of the common causes of food allergies in people and should be labeled,” academic Ho Ing-Kang (何英剛), who contributed to the report, said.
By July next year, food products containing shellfish, milk, mango, peanuts and eggs will require allergy warning labels, the Food and Drug Administration said.