The Consumers’ Foundation yesterday accused the Council of Agriculture (COA) of letting rice companies get away with adulterating their products by only punishing them for inaccurate labeling rather than adulteration or false advertising.
Earlier this week, the council’s Agriculture and Food Agency released the results of random tests on packaged rice products, saying 14 of 246 products sampled did not meet standards for labeling, while 23 of 223 did not meet standards for quality.
Only eight products resulted in fines, of NT$40,000 (US$1,352) each, under the Food Administration Act (糧食管理法) and agency regulations, for “more serious misconduct.”
Of the eight products, one was produced by Chyuan Shun Food Enterprise Co, known for its Shanshui Rice (山水米) brand, one was produced by the Kuanshan Farmers’ Association, two were produced by Hua-tung Rice Corp, two were produced by Luho Rice Factory and two were produced by Taiwan Sugar Corp.
The foundation yesterday said a Taikeng No. 9 (台梗九號) product by Luho Rice Factory was found not to have even a single grain of Taikeng No. 9 rice out of 10 grains tested, and another Taikeng No. 9 product by Taiwan Sugar Corp contained only one grain of Taikeng No. 9 out of 10.
“Why doesn’t the COA fine the rice companies for selling adulterated or fake products, instead of only imposing a fine of NT$40,000? The highest fine for adulteration is NT$1.5 million, but the council won’t use these names, so the rice companies aren’t afraid,” foundation vice chairman Mark Chang (張智剛) said, urging the Control Yuan to look into the case and find out whether the agency is at fault.
Later yesterday, the council issued a press release saying it has drafted an amendment to the Food Administration Act that would increase the maximum fine for false labeling from the maximum of NT$200,000 to as much as NT$4 million, and banning the mixture of domestic rice with imported rice starting from next year.