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NT$80 mil. fine for unapproved food additives

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Legislative Yuan yesterday passed an amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation during the extra session to raise the fine to NT$80 million for manufacturers who add illegal food additives.

After three readings, the Legislative Yuan approved the amendment that will also increase the sentence for manufacturers who add food additives that are not regulated by laws to a minimum of three years and a maximum of five years.

According to the amendment, any manufacturers that intentionally mislabel products could face a minimum fine of NT$40,000 to a maximum fine of NT$4 million.

Based on the amendment, the name of the Act Governing Food Sanitation has been officially changed to "the Act Governing Food Sanitation and Safety."

According to the amendment, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW) will be allowed to set up a foundation for food safety protection with the money from fines paid by illegal manufacturers.

MHW Food and Drug Administration Director-General Yeh Ming-kung (葉明功) said that the fines from Tatung Changchi Foodstuff Factory Co. (大統長基食品) and Flavor Full Foods (富味鄉食品) will go into the foundation.

According to the MHW, the foundation will be applied to subsidize the fees used to promote food safety.

MHW Vice Minister Shiu Ming-neng (許銘能) said that the new food act will also include the mandatory registration for genetic modification ingredients and strictly define what food additives are.

Shiu said that manufacturers are all notified that they have to complete food additive registration so the MHW can build a database to manage ingredients and monitor usage to prevent manufacturers from using them in excess.

According to Shiu, with the food safety foundation, consumers can also benefit when any food safety issues take place.

Shiu said that this new food act represents a big step forward in ensuring food safety, and the MHW will do its best to enforce and execute the regulations.

Coca-Cola Not Forced to Publish Formula

Shiu said that the MHW will further evaluate how manufacturers should label food additives and extracts inside food.

According to Shiu, the new food act only strictly defines what compound food additives are, but the new act does not regulate that compound food additives should be registered over concerns that it might affect businesses.

The MHW said that the Coca-Cola Company worried that the newly amended food safety regulations might force the company to label all additives in their products, which means the company would have to reveal its secret recipe to the world.

However, the MHW later discovered that an article in the Act Governing Food Sanitation can solve the issue. Since Coca-Cola's product is a "finished good," it only needs to put the word "flavoring" on its product label without further listing all the specific flavoring ingredients.

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