Updated Wednesday, November 5, 2008 9:42 am TWN, CNA

Pact on food safety helps: DOH


Source of Article:  http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/china-taiwan-relations/2008/11/05/181769/Pact-on.htm

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- As the agreement on food safety between Taiwan and China was signed, the Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday that the deal will help enhance bilateral cooperation and ensure the safety of food ingredients at the source of production.

In order to enhance communication on food safety issues between Taiwan and China and safeguard people’s health, Chen Yunlin, head of China’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), and P.K. Chiang, chairman of the Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), signed an agreement on food safety at the Grand Hotel in Taipei. The agreement established a cross-strait platform of dialogue on food safety for the first time, raising information transparency and permitting both sides to take necessary measures in a timely manner when food safety problems occur, said Wang Je-chau, DOH spokesman.

Under the agreement, both sides of the Taiwan Strait can take measures, such as information exchange, export and production suspensions, and immediate recall of tainted foods, when important food safety incidents occur.

The agreement also helps protect victims’ rights and enhance cross-strait experts’ exchanges on such issues.

In addition,convenient conditions and assistance will be provided when the other side conducts on-the-spot investigations. The agreement will go into effect in a week.

“If food safety is not ensured, tainted food products will cause damage to not only Taiwan’s business runners but also consumers,” said Wang, stressing the importance of the agreement, as China became the second largest exporting country of food ingredients to Taiwan last year, only after the United States.

Chen Shu-kong, director-general of the Bureau of Food and Drug Analysis under the DOH, who was also one of Taiwan’s representatives attending the Chiang-Chen meeting, noted that information about food safety will no longer be “secrets in a black box” once the agreement is signed.

He said that when food safety events occurred in the past, Taiwan had to ask for information through Taiwanese importers, causing difficulties in coping with problems immediately.

“Now we can directly contact Chinese officials in charge of food safety, which was unimaginable before,” he said.

He added that the transparency of food safety will push Chinese food producers to enhance safety standards and the authorities to amend food safety regulations, a win-win result for consumers of the two sides of the strait.

According to the DOH, Taiwan has imported more than 50,000 batches of food from China since 2005. Among more than 3,000 batches that were examined randomly, 103 were not up to standard.

In recent years, many food imported from China, such as shrimp, moon cakes, crabs and milk powder, were found to contain harmful materials, including bleaching agents, aflatoxin and melamine.

In addition to the agreement on food safety, Chiang and Chen also signed other agreements to expand cross-strait air links and set up shipping and postal links.



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