Special China-Taiwan food safety channel to be set up, says MAC



Officials, testers will communicate efficiently across Strait, helping to avoid further scares


Taiwan News, Staff Writer
Page 3
2008-10-01 01:36 AM


Source of Article:  http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=752398



Taiwan and China will set up a channel of communication between health officials from both sides to discuss food safety issues within a week, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday.

MAC chairwoman Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) credited the recent visit to China by a Taiwanese delegation for the imminent realization of the project.

Over the weekend, a representative of the semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) accompanied six food safety experts on a short visit to Beijing, during which they held talks with Chinese officials about the melamine scare and its effect on Taiwan.

The adding of the toxic chemical to Chinese dairy products has cost the lives of at least four infants in China, and sickened 53,000 children. Taiwan is one of several countries which have banned the import of Chinese dairy products while performing tests on products ranging from milk powder to biscuits and chocolate.

Major achievement

Delegation leader Chang Shu-ti (張樹棣) said Monday after returning to Taiwan that the plan to establish a special channel was the trip's major achievement. The team also brought back some practical information about the melamine crisis, Chang said.

Lai said the new channel will primarily link health department officials and testing organizations from both sides. Faster contacts will allow Taiwan to react more rapidly and efficiently to safety threats, she said.

As to demands for compensation from the Chinese dairy producers, the MAC said that first responsibilities had to be attributed and the amount of losses determined.

The compensation files could then be collected and passed on to China through SEF.

Lactoferrin, chocolate

The food safety scare expanded yesterday to include more products, including a protein from New Zealand. Inspectors in China reportedly found 4 parts per million of melamine in lactoferrin supplied by New Zealand's Tatua Co-operative Dairy Co., Ltd., which halted all exports of the product.

Taipei's health service found out that two Taiwanese companies imported the lactoferrin, and sent inspectors to take samples to be tested for melamine. Health officials said the product would be destroyed if it was found to have been tainted.

If the tests were negative, the importers would be allowed to distribute their product. Cable station CTI reported yesterday evening that the tests had shown the lactoferrin had not been tainted.

In a similar move, stores in Taiwan removed 11 types of chocolate sold by the British brand Cadbury from their shelves. Tests in Hong Kong reportedly found melamine in the chocolate, but a spokesman for Cadbury's local distributor told reporters that the products for sale in Taiwan had been imported from Australia or Malaysia.

During a tour of a supermarket yesterday, Department of Health chairman Yeh Chin-chuan (葉金川) emphasized that tests of dairy products covered all imports, not just China-made products.



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