Food manufacturers, investors express concern over proposed information plan

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Jan 16, 2014 - Page 4

A proposed plan to disclose information about food manufacturers on food packages will create unnecessary trade barriers and has been a concern for foreign investors in retail and the pharmaceutical industry, an official with the Council of Economic Planning and Development said yesterday.

Chang Hui-chuan (張惠娟), head of the council’s Center for Economic Deregulation and Innovation, made the remarks at a press conference after a Cabinet-level meeting to discuss deregulation, as part of the government’s preparations for the nation’s possible membership in the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

“We need to clear the issue with the minister without portfolio or Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺),” Chang said, referring to a proposed subparagraph of article 22 in the amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法).

Her statement partly explained why the amendment, which was high on the government’s agenda to toughen rules governing food sanitation and safety controls in the wake of a string of food scares over the past months, ended up being stuck in the legislature when it entered into recess on Tuesday.

The proposed subparagraph, initiated by Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇), stipulated that imported food products would have to carry information about their manufacturers on the packaging, including their names, telephone numbers and addresses.

Chang said that the government has received complaints over the proposed regulation from foreign investors, among them international retail giant Costco.

Costco made it clear that it would have difficulties following the law if the provision is adopted, because information about the manufacturers of its store brand, Kirkland, is a trade secret, Chang said.

Other food producers, including Coca-Cola Co, raised concerns over a proposed provision that requires the disclosure of all ingredients used in a food product in a registry system administered by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, she said.

In an effort to discourage Coca Cola from withdrawing from Taiwan, the government has worked out a solution to exempt it from another proposed rule mandating the labeling of all its ingredients, but the company still finds the registration requirement unacceptable, she said.