Taiwan rolls out measures to ensure food safety

TAIPEI - As the nation continues to be in turmoil owing to the food crisis, ruling Kuomintang (KMT) spokesman Charles Chen affirmed that the government has introduced various measures to prevent similar oil scandals from happening again.

Chen made the remark in response to criticism made by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen, who lashed out against President Ma Ying-jeou for "doing nothing constructive fit for a governor" and therefore should be "removed from the shelf like other vicious oil products."

But Chen rebuked Tsai for making unfounded statements, saying that Ma has summoned a high-level national security panel in the wake of the food crisis and ordered the Cabinet to form a special task force charged with the responsibility of improving food management across government agencies.

The Cabinet has initiated a number of measures to better ensure food safety in the future, including heavier fines, higher informer rewards, improved refuse oil recycle management, an overhaul of the Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) system and better food tracking systems.

Chen pointed out that the government has also launched the largest ever prosecution effort, as 13 local prosecutors offices have moved in, mobilizing nearly a thousand investigators and police to carry out food safety related inspections.

Ma Standing with People: Chen

President Ma has been criticised by many for "advocating a boycott" against the Ting Hsin International Group, the main culprit behind the oil scandal. Critics believe that the boycott is a civic movement that requires no participation from the president. The government's duty is to make sure that it sets up proper laws and a system to ensure food quality.

Chen said that Ma was only indicating his determination to "stand with the people" as it is a sure way to realise consumer justice. Chen pointed out that although all facts point to unscrupulous merchants' wrong-doing, legal proceedings including evidence collection, prosecution and issuing judgment will take a long time to complete.

The Environmental Protection Administration also weighed in yesterday, saying that it is considering adding a secret formula to waste oil, so in the event that waste oil is used inappropriately, the administration will be able to conduct a screening test and track its origin.

In the wake of the oil scandal, the Ministry of Health and Welfare has removed a number of oil products from shelves, totaling 514 tons of food items.