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July 28, 2017

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Coca-Cola concerned with possible change to Food Sanitation Act

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- An amendment to the Act Governing Food Sanitation, which has not yet passed in the Legislative Yuan, has raised concerns among foreign beverage corporations in Taiwan, the Coca-Cola company even said they would give up the Taiwan market if they have to, the Council of Economic Planning and Development (CEPD) said yesterday.

Connie Chang (張惠娟), executive director of the CEPD's center for economic deregulation and innovation, explained that the newly amended food safety regulations stipulate that food companies must label all food additives on their products.

"It sounds reasonable, but take Coca-Cola for example, the whole world knows its recipe is still lying somewhere in a safe, if the company abides by the new rule, then it must make its secret public in Taiwan," Chang said.

Noting that the company is worried about the potential change, and has been discussing the matter with the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MHW), Chang said the company remarked that if the government insists on carrying out the new regulation, then Coca-Cola would rather give up Taiwan's market.

Chang said the CEPD and 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 flavoring ingredients. Both the company and the MHW accept doing it this way, she added.

Label Manufacturer Is Another Issue

Chang said however, some of the issues regarding the amended act remained unsolved. She went on to say that the act regulates that food companies have to label the product manufacturer on its products.

"Again it sounds like not a big deal, but what is the point to legislate this regulation? To further protect consumers' rights and manage food safety issues? I am not sure about that," Chang said.

For example, Costco's Kirkland does not have to reveal the manufacturers of its products to the public, Chang said, noting that according to trade secret norms, the company cannot tell the public which manufacturers signed a contract with it.

Chang said however, if Costco has to "survive" in Taiwan, then it must follow the MHW's regulation, "but I've been told that they said they could make it." She further noted that not just Costco, Uni-President Group and Kuang-chuan Co. also face the same issue.

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