Taipei City plans to tackle oil safety at night markets

By Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporter

Sat, Oct 26, 2013 - Page 3

The Taipei City Government yesterday said it plans to expand its food ingredients registration platform to major night markets in a bid to boost public confidence in food safety amid the current cooking oil scare.

The ingredients registration platform was launched last month for public schools in Taipei City to record the contents of school lunches.

In the wake of the cooking oil scandal, the city government is seeking cooperation from vendors at major night markets to list their ingredients on the online platform.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) yesterday visited Ningxia Night Market to inspect the cooking oils used by local vendors.

He said the night market launched a trial ingredients registration platform this year as a self-governance measure, and the city government will assist the night market in launching the platform publicly.

“The cooking oil scare has caused public concern and affected local businesses. A food ingredient platform for night market food will introduce transparency and enhance food safety,” he said.

Ningxia Night Market Tourism Association director Tim Lin (林定國) said most of the night market’s vendors have agreed to join the platform and the night market will work with the city government to launch the online platform as soon as possible.

Taipei Department of Health Commissioner Lin Chi-hung (林奇宏) said the department will discuss the plan with other major night markets, including Shilin and Huaxi Street night markets.

The city has inspected the use of cooking oils at 14 night markets and 53 traditional markets since the incident, finding no vendors have used oils produced by Chang Chi or Flavor Full Food.

Information from the ministry showed that a total of 150,855 edible oil products from Chang Chi have been pulled off the shelves, while 11,014 oil products from Flavor Full Food were removed from stores.

The Taipei Department of Education said 66 schools were found to have used sesame oils from Flavor Full Food in the past, but have since stopped using their products.

Separately yesterday during the question-and-answer session in the legislature, Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said he felt “guilty” about the recent food scares because the incidents have demonstrated the failure of the government to ensure food safety.

He said the recent food safety scandal suggested the government’s food safety regime contained certain loopholes, through which food producers have been able to evade inspection.

The government is duty bound to address the loopholes, Jiang said, adding: “We will not just talk the talk, but will spare no efforts to address the problem.”

Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan