Local health departments are now reintroducing inspections on processed meat in night markets and steakhouses to see if their products are labelled correctly, according to Chiang Yu-mei (姜郁美), acting director for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday.
Chiang continued by saying that if any meat product is found to be mislabeled, local health departments will demand that the sellers correct the mistakes immediately.
Based on research conducted by Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers, few restaurants properly label their processed meat products. Since processed meat needs to be cooked thoroughly to guarantee consumers' safety, the KMT lawmakers fear that many consumers may be getting undercooked meat.
In addition, KMT lawmaker Wu Yu-jen (吳育仁) expressed his concern over the issue, saying that many consumers may be unaware that they are being served processed meat. Considering the cost of a real cut of steak, it is questionable for all-you-can-eat barbecue restaurants to launch the NT$700 (S$30) per person sets so commonly seen around the nation.
KMT lawmakers stated that they will propose an amendment to force restaurants to mark their meat products correctly and to tell the consumers if they are using processed meat instead of original cuts.
In addition, KMT lawmakers also said that the amendments will include punishments for violating the regulation.
Chiang emphasised that since 2004, the central government has been reminding local health departments and restaurants that it is essential to cook processed meat completely in order to rid the products of harmful bacteria.
Currently, companies that sell improperly labelled packaged processed meat can face a fine from NT$40,000 to NT$4 million.
According to Chiang, the government has not authority to force restaurants to properly label processed meat. However, once the proposed amendments are passed, the government will punish all sellers who violate this rule.