TAIPEI - Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) yesterday presided over the first meeting of the Taipei City Food Safety Committee (台北市政府食品安全委員會), which sought to address issues such as the treatment of used cooking oil and local school lunches.
The committee was established by Ko, who serves as the current convener, and includes 19 members. Aside from 12 non-Taipei City Government members who were selected through election, the other 7 members include prominent individuals who are part of the local food industry and national health service.
Such members included I-Mei Foods Co. (義美) general manager Kao Chih-ming (高志明), Taipei Veterans General Hospital's (台北榮民總醫院) toxicology division head Yang Chen-chang (楊振昌) and director-general of Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Chiang Yu-mei (姜郁美).
During his speech, Ko was quoted as saying, "Food safety is a basic civil right for all people. If citizens are oblivious toward what is or is not edible, no one will believe that a government has the best interest of its people in mind."
The mayor also said that food safety was a determining factor that influenced the outcome of the 9-in-1 Elections last year. He said that was why it is so important that a lot of effort be put into the area.
Reportedly, topics that the committee discussed included establishing the doctrine of the committee, progress in the execution of transparent food security regulations, a used cooking oil recycling plan and a draft to allow Taipei's Department of Education to provide healthy meals to Taipei schools.
Ko said that it is obviously the government's fault when its citizens can no longer dine without a certain level of doubt and hesitation.
As such, to show how much weight the topic has to him as a mayor, Ko said that he has decided to act as the convener of the committee, a position that is traditionally given to deputy mayors, so that he may manage the committee directly.
During the press conference that followed the Taipei City Food Safety Committee's first meeting, Ko said that the Taipei City Government will work with the FDA to create a standardized food hygiene grading system that would be applied to the entire nation in the future.
Ko said that he does not wish for Taipei City alone to have and abide by a regulated standard that would alienate the city from the rest of the country.
Hence, efforts to generate a collaborative plan with the FDA will soon bear fruit. Taipei is willing to become the city to test out the system, Ko concluded.