By Shelley Huang Staff Reporter, with CNA
Department of Health Minister Yeh Ching-chuan (葉金川) told reporters yesterday that “no melamine detected” does not mean a product contains zero parts per million (ppm) of melamine, but rather that no melamine could be detected with the testing method used and that the product is “fit for consumption.”
In response to the recent controversy over whether the government had eased its standards on the permissible concentration of melamine from zero ppm to 2.5ppm, Yeh said a Cabinet-level inter-agency panel would discuss the definition of “standard” levels of melamine on Tuesday and seek to standardize testing procedures nationwide despite the fact that different testing instruments are available in different regions.
PHOTO: LU CHUN-WEI, TAIPEI TIMES
The Department of Health (DOH) said the nation’s five laboratories certified for testing, including the Food Industry Research and Development Institute, had been working night and day to cope with the growing backlog of companies that need to have products tested.
The DOH said it planned to have another 16 labs certified by the Taiwan Accreditation Foundation to help with melamine testing.
The labs, when ready, will accept samples seven days a week, it said.
Yeh said yesterday that the DOH would meet local health authorities in 25 counties and cities tomorrow to coordinate inspection procedures.
On Tuesday, the DOH will contact experts in the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the EU to collaborate on standard inspection procedures and setting a threshold for melamine detection, he said.
Yeh said the government was responsible for screening all imported foodstuffs and that all agencies, including the Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection, the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine and the Bureau of Food and Drug Analysis would “apply the strictest screening standards.”
In response to a report in the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) that customs personnel had not yet received lists of banned imports, Yeh said the task force had confirmed that instructions on banned products — including Chinese-made milk powder, other dairy products and vegetable-based proteins — had been issued as early as Tuesday.
Not one banned product has made it past Taiwan’s borders since, he said.
Meanwhile the DOH said yesterday that it would step up its random examination of food products from countries with dubious food safety standards.
“We have targeted products from certain countries with questionable standards and we do not rule out the possibility of carrying out the strictest batch-by-batch examinations of suspect products,” Yeh said, declining to name any countries.
Asked to comment on the scandal involving Pizza Hut, Yeh said it was only one case and that the source of the tainted ingredients had yet to be identified.
Pizza Hut on Friday reported to the DOH that 65,000 packets of cheese powder contaminated with up to 76.2ppm of melamine may have been consumed by its customers.
Pizza Hut has since recalled all unused cheese packets.
To date, five cases of kidney stones have been reported nationwide that could be linked to melamine.
RISK FACTORS: ‘We hope people can cooperate and endure it ... it is possibly the very important last mile,’ Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung said Taiwan’s COVID-19 restrictions and mask regulations are to remain the same next month, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. The center reported 42,112 new local COVID-19 cases and 85 deaths, saying that the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has dropped to a new low this month. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the CECC, said that the center is keeping COVID-19 restrictions and mask regulations the same due to the local virus situation, and an increase in the number of imported cases of the new Omicron subvariants BA.4 and BA.5 of SARS-CoV-2, among other risk factors. Easing
TRAVEL CONFERENCE: Representatives from the two countries exchanged views on how to increase tourist numbers, with one identifying individual travel as a trend Taiwan and South Korea aim to increase the number of tourists traveling between the two countries to 3 million, government and tourism industry representatives said at a conference in Hsinchu City yesterday. The annual event was attended by Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications Chen Yen-po (陳彥伯); Tourism Bureau Director-General Chang Shi-chung (張錫聰); Taiwan Visitors Association chairwoman Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭); South Korean Representative to Taiwan Chung Byung-won; Yoon Ji-sook, an official at the South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism; and Korea Association of Travel Agents chairman Oh Chang-hee. Global tourism is expected to soon rebound to between 55 and
DAMAGE CONTROL: The KMT in a statement called the Taiwan Strait ‘international waters,’ after Alexander Huang said China had the right to claim it as internal waters Lawmakers and experts yesterday accused the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) envoy to the US Alexander Huang (黃介正) of acting as China’s stooge, after he said that Beijing has the right to claim waters beyond its maritime territory as its exclusive economic zone and that the US has no legal basis to assert that the Taiwan Strait is an “international waterway.” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wang Ting-yu (王定宇) said in an online post that most of the world considers the Strait an international waterway, adding that this is important for safeguarding Taiwan. “We have seen US warships transiting through the Taiwan Strait.
The Taichung District Court yesterday sentenced to nine years in prison an unlicensed judo coach who caused the death of a seven-year-old student after slamming him onto the ground more than a dozen times. In its decision against the coach, a man surnamed Ho (何), the court cited his lack of remorse for using excessive force against an inadequately trained child and his failure to reconcile with the parents for his role in their son’s death. Speaking on behalf of the boy’s mother, Taichung City Councilor Jacky Chen (陳清龍) said the family would appeal to a higher court. Prosecutors said that Ho on