Lawmakers pan ‘dozing’ authorities

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff reporter

Sat, May 25, 2013 - Page 4

The Department of Health and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have been “dozing off” on food safety issues, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers said, criticizing the health authorities’ inability to prevent a series of recent food scandals while playing on President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) snoozing at a public meeting on Monday.

Maleic acid-laced food starch, soy sauce containing excessive 3-MCPD, heavy metal-contaminated herbal medicine and cream puffs made with expired ingredients are among a number of goods which have caused food safety scares in recent weeks.

In addition, as lawmakers called on the health authorities to implement tighter regulations and more effective monitoring, a major food distributor was caught printing fake expiry dates on products sold to several major food outlets in southern Taiwan.

“The recent food scandals have caused the public to wonder what is left on the market that can be safely consumed,” DPP Legislator Chiu Yi-ying (邱議瑩) said on Thursday.

Meanwhile, DPP lawmakers Yeh Yi-jin (葉宜津) and Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) described the department and the FDA as “nodding off like President Ma,” saying that news about the recent scandals had been brought to light by informants, the media or by consumers.

DPP Legislator Lin Shu-fen (林淑芬), who panned the department earlier this week over an announcement in 2000 that exempted compound food additives and food flavoring substances from FDA inspections and registering processes, again took the government to task on the issue, which she said is the main reason why food manufacturers’ constant break the law and spark food scares.

The lawmakers urged the government to strictly monitor the supply chain of raw materials, require manufacturers to attach to the ingredient labels the codes of chemicals that have been permitted to be used as food additives and revoke the said exemptions.