Mon, Feb 18, 2019 - Page 2 News List

FDA in hot water over new soy sauce standards

CENSURED:The Control Yuan said the FDA adopted looser rules for manufacturing brewed soy sauce than it said it would, including removing the levulinic acid level

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Control Yuan building in Taipei is pictured in an undated photograph.

Photo: Chung Li-hua, Taipei Times

The Control Yuan has passed a proposal to censure the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for setting loose standards for brewed soy sauce, officials said yesterday.

The FDA announced its draft Regulations Governing the Labeling of Prepackaged Soy Sauce Products (包裝醬油製程之標示規定) on March 8 last year, which would have required producers to identify their products according to the manufacturing process, and add either “rapid fermented,” “hydrolyzed,” “blended (mixed)” or “brewed” to the packaging labels.

The regulations were due to take effect on Jan. 1 this year, but the Control Yuan said the FDA and the Ministry of Health and Welfare had made significant changes to standards set out in the new rules.

The ministry removed an important standard for identifying brewed soy sauce products — the levulinic acid level — after the FDA released its draft, and instead adopted a looser standard used by the Chinese National Standards (CNS) for Grade C soy sauce products — the total nitrogen level, the Control Yuan said.

The FDA also set a looser standard on the maximum level of the chemical 3-chloropropane-1,2-diol that can be in non-brewed soy sauce, the Control Yuan said, noting that the chemical is a contaminant formed during the manufacturing process.

The FDA failed to inspect the levels of chemical 4-methylimidazole, a contaminant formed during the manufacturing of certain caramel coloring agents used in food and drink products, in soy sauce, the Control Yuan said.

CNS No. 423 for grading soy sauce products requires brewed soy sauce to have a levulinic acid level of no more than 0.1 percent, but that was not included in the FDA’s regulations, it said.

Control Yuan members Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) and Tsai Chung-yi (蔡崇義) questioned FDA officials about the discrepancy, and FDA Food Safety Division head Pan Chih-kuan (潘志寬) told them the levulinic acid level requirement was added in the second announcement of the draft regulation, but was later removed from the final version.

FDA Director-General Wu Shou-mei (吳秀梅) told the Control Yuan that the requirement had been removed because many nations did not have such a requirement, but Tien and Tsai found that a FDA briefing document that showed the requirement’s removal had been suggested by a netizen, “may MAY,” on the government’s Policy Network Participation Platform.

It was not clear why such the suggestion had been made anonymously or why the FDA was willing to adopt it, so Tien and Tsai’s proposal that the FDA be issued a correction was passed, the Control Yuan said.

Industrial Development Bureau statistics showed that about 137,528 tonnes of soy sauce were manufactured in Taiwan between 2015 and 2017, the Control Yuan said.

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