The recent cooking oil scare will take a toll on the nation’s GDP growth this year, as concerns over food safety hurt consumption, a local think tank said yesterday.
However, Taiwan Institute of Economic Research president David Hong (洪德生) declined to give a projection of how much the issue is expected drag down economic growth.
Although the food industry does not play as big a role in the economy as the information technology sector, worry over food safety will affect domestic consumption, which makes up 60 percent of the GDP, he said on the sidelines of a seminar on regional economic integration.
Taiwan needs stricter inspection systems and food safety controls, Hong said, adding that the government is paying attention to the issue.
The latest food scandal erupted last month when Chang Chi Foodstuff Factory Co was found to have been misleading consumers for many years by selling adulterated products labeled as pure oils.
The company, which sells its products under the well-known and widely used Tatung brand, has also been charged with using a prohibited coloring agent, copper chlorophyllin, in its olive oil.
The nation’s largest sesame oil producer, Flavor Full Foods, was also found to have been selling adulterated oil labeled as 100 percent pure oil from as far back as 2009.
On Sunday, Wei Chuan Foods Corp, a subsidiary of the Ting Hsin International Group and one of Taiwan’s oldest food companies, was also found to have been adulterating 21 of its edible oil products.
Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research president Wu Chung-shu (吳中書) recently said that the crisis could be a “good opportunity for Taiwan to review its food testing, management and safety controls.”
It is also time to take a closer look at business ethics and social responsibility in the country, he said.