Following a spate of food safety incidents, the Cabinet yesterday proposed changes to the food safety auditing system and imposing tougher penalties on brand owners and food manufacturers to prevent violations.
The recent series of food scares include “all-natural” bread found to contain artificial flavorings and “100 percent” olive oil found to be mixed with cottonseed and other cheaper oil products, as well as copper chlorophyllin.
The most recent scare involves allegations that about 70 percent of domestic milk and dairy products contain residues of chemicals and drugs used for livestock.
If the Cabinet’s amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) is passed by the legislature, food products will have to be tested by a third-party auditor — in addition to tests by the manufacturer and the government — before they can be sold.
Raw materials and semi-finished products will also have to be tested either by the food manufacturer or by a third-party auditor before they are processed.
The last time the act was revised by the legislature in June 2011 saw increases in penalties for various types of violations, following the discovery of the chemical di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate, or DEHP, in beverage products.
Under the amendment, food manufacturers found to use substances deemed harmful to human health would face a fine of up to NT$50 million (US$1.69 million) and a maximum of five years in prison, compared with the current maximum fine of NT$15 million and three years imprisonment.
For those who use false or deceptive information in advertising food products, the fines would be raised from between NT$40,000 and NT$200,000 to between NT$40,000 and NT$4 million.