News from Taiwan: 167 ingredient suppliers affected by toxic contamination
By Kevin Stoda
I flew to Taipei this past Friday and the big news ther is an issue which affects almost all consumers of foods, perfumes, and beverages in the country (and globally.) The issue is of food additives. The TAIWAN NEWS reported that the cancer-causing DEHP has been detected in the products of 47 local [Taipei] food and drink manufacturers.”
While neighboring China has long been out-of-control in terms of the abusive usage of food additives, i.e. which endanger and kill people, now, the awareness of Taiwan’s homegrown malpractice in food manufacturing is gaining under the spotlight.
As of this very weekend, the Taiwan government has stated that any store found selling food with the DEHP or related long-life and emulsifying additives like it “will be fined per item” starting on May 31, 2011.
As in China, where the organic movement is growing (however miniscule it still is) in response the Chinese government’s lack of will in protecting its own citizens, an organic movment is also growing in Taiwan. In both countries it is hoped that the local and national organic groups, producers–and other concerned citizens–can put pressure on the government to respond quicker to bad food production practices.
The delay in the case of DEHP is obvious. DEHP has been used for over two decades by manufactures to make food and beverages—juices and sports drinks—look more appealing. Awareness f problems with DEHP were also reported in other coutnries decades ago.
In short, just as in neighboring China, the Taiwan governmnet has historically been far too lax in regulating the food prodcution industry to-date. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in Taiwan, however, is responding in record time by banning DEHP and other emulsifiers—within a few weeks of the most national outcry caused by reported various adverse health reports in the land.
Such a wide range of products being placed under forced removal from food shelves in the country is impressive-as such a pace is normally reserved for E-coli and other pandemic causing agents or pathologies being encountered
Moreover, the perfume industry is also under fire in Taiwan. “Prosecutors yesterday seized bank accounts and property belonging to the owner of a chemical company at the center of a food additive scare, a Ministry of Justice (MOJ) official said.”
This contrasts greatly with the USA where enforcement by law officials in the financial and health scadals of recent years have rarely found offiicals under arrest and being prosecuted for their bad will and efforts towards consumers and others in the society.
Taiwanese “Ministry of Justice Prosecution Office Deputy Director Lin Jinn-tsun (林錦村) said prosecutors had seized five accounts and three properties belonging to Lai Chun-chieh (賴俊傑), owner of Yu Shen Chemical Co (昱伸香料有限公司) and his wife.”
In addition, ““Since the plasticizer scandal, requests by prosecutors to detain three people — one from Yu Shen and two from Pin Han Perfumery Co (賓漢香料公司) — have been approved. Another person has been released on bail, but will be banned from leaving the country,” Lin said.
QUESTIONS: Do you recall anyone from Citibank, AIG, et. al being arrested in the USA for crimes against consumers? Do you recall having seen assets of firm presidents, CEOs, et.al having their assets frozen? What happened to the rule of law in the USA?
Taiwan will certainly not execute corporate malfeasance as has occurred at time sin China, but as this is an election year, I imagine that leaders throughout Taiwan will expect more clean up of society in 2011. Democratic Progressive Party, i.e. the opposition, will see to that.
Yesterday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said “Our environment is filled with those chemicals, which permeate our food, drinks, dietary supplements and even medicine and cosmetics.”Earlier in the day, Vice Premier Sean Chen (陳沖) and health officials vowed to adopt stricter regulations to manage the use of clouding agents in consumer products as the food scare that has beset the nation in the past week continues to escalate.
Invited to a meeting of the legislature’s Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee, Chen and Department of Health Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達) were pressed by legislators to adopt stricter measures to prohibit or limit the use of DEHP, and other industrial-use clouding agents in consumer goods.
THOUGHT: Contrast this democratic practice with politics and govenrance in the USA in 2011—i.e. with the majority of Republicans going after the elimination of the EPA and the watering down of all kinds of environmental and FDA regulations.