The passage of the amended Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) has been left in the lurch as the Ministry of Economic Affairs weighed in with a warning that the amendments would become “technical barriers to trade” and incur trade disputes.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) rebuffed the claim yesterday, calling the cited trade barriers “black-hearted” barriers blocking the passage of an amendment that would benefit Taiwanese.
The legislature is set to have an extra legislative session this coming week for the deliberation of the draft, which failed to clear the floor in the session that ended on Jan. 14.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare reportedly sent its revised version of the draft to the Legislative Yuan on Thursday, citing trade barriers and calling for a review of the regulations requiring food manufacturers to have their compound additives registered for permit and subsequent inspection and demanding the labeling of genetically modified food raw materials used.
Tien yesterday called into question the timing of the intervention by the ministries and the Food and Drug Administration.
The relevant authorities had failed to raise the concerns during the legislature’s deliberations and negotiations, she said.
She said it left her no choice but to believe that the authorities had come under pressure from food companies.
Tien said that the health authorities had agreed to revive in stages by July next year the registration of compound additives, a practice that had been suspended in 2000, mandating that three kinds of substances — preservatives, antioxidants and bleaching agents — be accounted for to complete registration and examination.
“Other compound additives are to be evaluated for their health risks by the food safety risk assessment committee and sorted for a scheduled inspection. What I’m asking is that this schedule is laid out and announced by July next year,” Tien said, adding that there is not even an article that could discipline the health authorities “if [the health authorities] decide to have the inspection schedule spanning 30 to 50 years.”
Food and Drug Administration Deputy Director-General Chiang Yu-mei (姜郁美) said that the compound additive registration rules were too strict and “no other countries have similar rules.”
According to Tien, the regulation on compound additives will not expose a food product’s formula since the rule requires the revelation of the additives used, not their percentages.
“Thailand, for example, even requires the percentages of the ingredients to be labeled. Why were there no ‘trade barrier’ protests there?” she asked.
The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced on Dec. 27 last year that spices were exempt from the full-disclosure requirement.
The National Development Council said in a statement that foreign chambers of commerce are satisfied with the measure, adding that media reports about one of its officials saying that Coca-Cola Co was planning to retreat from Taiwan were “inconsistent with what the official actually said” and “had caused trouble to both the council and the corporation.”
As for the regulations compelling the raw materials in genetically modified (GM) foods to be registered and labeled as such when a certain threshold amount was reached, which an official of the economic affairs ministry’s Office of Trade Negotiations has said creates a trade barrier, Tien said that Taiwan is now among the countries with the most loosely regulated GM food labeling laws.
“Twenty-eight EU member countries have the strictest GM food labeling and tracing regulations. Why does the trade barrier problem not apply to them?” Tien asked.
The complaint about mandatory disclosure of information relating to production facilities was likewise unacceptable for the legislator, who said that food companies can reveal the information as a barcode for the local authority’s reference.
In the US, the information about production facilities does not need to be included on a package’s label, but has to be reported to the local health authority for food source management, Tien said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) is aware that Beijing’s treatment of Hong Kong has weakened any possible sentiment for a “one country, two systems” arrangement for Taiwan, and has instructed Chinese Communist Party (CCP) politburo member Wang Huning (王滬寧) to develop new ways of defining cross-strait relations, Japanese news magazine Nikkei Asia reported on Thursday. A former professor of international politics at Fu Dan University, Wang is expected to develop a dialogue that could serve as the foundation for cross-strait unification, and Xi plans to use the framework to support a fourth term as president, Nikkei Asia quoted an anonymous source
LUCKY DATE: The man picked the 10th ‘Super Red Envelope’ in a lottery store in Taoyuan’s Jhongli because he broke up with his girlfriend on Jan. 10 A man who recently broke up with his girlfriend won a NT$1 million (US$32,929) prize in the “NT$20 million Super Red Envelope” lottery after picking a card based on the date of their breakup, Taiwan Lottery Co said yesterday. The man, in his 20s, bought the 10th ticket at a lottery store in Taoyuan’s Jhongli District (中壢), because he broke up with his girlfriend on Jan. 10, the store owner told the lottery company. The “Super Red Envelope” lottery was a limited offering by the company during the Lunar New Year holiday, which ended yesterday. The cards, which cost NT$2,000 each, came with
TOURISM BOOST: The transportation system could help attract more visitors to the area, as the line is to connect multiple cultural sites, a city councilor said Residents in New Taipei City’s Ankeng District (安坑) said the local light rail system might have a positive influence, but raised questions about its practicality. The Ankeng light rail system, which is to commence operations after the Lunar New Year holiday, would cut travel time for commuters from Ankeng to downtown Taipei or New Taipei City by 15 to 20 minutes, the city government said. According to the initial plan, there would be one train every 15 minutes during peak time and additional interval trains would run between the densely populated Ankang Station (安康) and Shisizhang Station (十 四張). To encourage people to
CHAMPION TREES: The team used light detection and ranging imaging to locate the tree, and found that it measured a height of 84.1m and had a girth of 8.5m A team committed to finding the tallest trees in the nation yesterday said that an 84.1m tall Taiwania cryptomerioides tree had been named the tallest tree in Taiwan and East Asia. The Taiwan Champion Trees, a team consisting of researchers from the Council of Agriculture’s Taiwan Forestry Research Institute and National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), in June last year used light detection and ranging (LiDAR) imaging to find the giant tree, numbered 55214, upstream of the Daan River (大安溪). A 20-member expedition team led by Rebecca Hsu (徐嘉君), an assistant researcher at the Taiwan Forestry Research Institute, set out to find the