Food scandal report passed to Singapore: Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taiwan's representative office in Singapore has passed along the latest information regarding the measures taken in the wake of a scandal over tainted starch to the city-state's government, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official said yesterday.

The move is part of efforts to show Singapore that Taiwan is doing its utmost to deal with the food scare and to restore Singaporeans' confidence in Taiwanese products, according to Chen Tien-chueh (陳天爵), director-general of MOFA's Department of International Information Service.

According to the information collected by Taiwan's overseas offices around the globe, Singapore is the only country so far that has expressed concern over the safety of Taiwanese food products amid a scandal in which some local products were found to contain industrial starch, Chen said.

Local media reports said Singapore's Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) announced on Sunday that 11 kinds of Taiwanese products containing maleic acid-tainted starch have been pulled from the shelves.

In response, Chen said that Taiwan's representative office in Singapore immediately established contact with the AVA and provided information on measures Taiwan is taking to resolve the crisis.

The AVA also asked for the Taipei office's assistance to pass a request for more information to Taiwan's food safety authorities. Among the topics the AVA is seeking details on is a new policy that requires all starch manufacturers and resellers to obtain proof of their food products' safety and to make this proof public by June 1.

MOFA to Brief Food Safety to Ambassadors

Meanwhile, MOFA is also expected to work with the Department of Health (DOH) to brief foreign representatives in Taiwan in the near future on measures taken by the government.

"All these efforts are being taken to show the world the Taiwan government's transparency in dealing with the crisis," Chen said.

His comments come amid allegations that the Foreign Ministry has failed to launch an international campaign to reaffirm Taiwan's food safety. The controversy flared earlier this month when the DOH seized about 10,000 kilograms of starch powder containing a chemical which has been found to cause kidney damage.

The scandal has already spread overseas, with authorities in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia reportedly having launched probes into the safety of Taiwanese food product.