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Retailers must identify food product sources from Jan. 2010

Retailers of food products in Taiwan will be required to not only put labels on packages but to also identify the original sources of their products starting January 2010.

Officials at the Department of Health (DOH) said the rules apply to packaged foodstuffs displayed at retailing outlets.

The labels on the product packages should carry information concerning product names and origins of the products.

There should also be signs, posters, stickers or other means in the stores to clearly tell consumers where the products originally come from.

Those failing to comply with the regulation will face fines between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000, the officials said.

Stores that are found to have deliberately use incorrect information to cheat consumers will be fined from NT$40,000 and NT$200,000.

The enforcement of the new rules will better enable consumers to make good choices.

There have been retailers caught selling imported tea from Vietnam or other areas under the label of Taiwan tea while seaweed from other districts were labeled as Japanese products, the officials pointed out.

They said retailers may display their products from different areas under different signs based on their origins.

But there is no need for retailers to identify the origins of cooked food items ready for consumption, they added.

The DOH also announced a plan requiring restaurants serving Western foods to have more than 70 percent of their staff members possess certificates for Western-style cooking if their seating capacity exceeds 50. The rule will be enforced in February 2011 at the earliest to give restaurateurs reasonable time to carry out the measure.

Meanwhile, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said it plans to include locally produced fresh cow milk in the system of CAS certificates next year.

Suppliers of food and agricultural products meeting specified production and hygiene standards are allowed to put the CAS (Chinese Agriculture Standards) labels on their products.

Officials at the COA estimated the move will be able to help generate additional sales amounting to NT$8 billion per year in view of consumers' confidence in the CAS system.

Other dairy products like cheese and goat milk will also be included into the system, the officials added.

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 Retailers must identify food product sources from Jan. 2010 
Consumers make purchases of food items and snacks at stores on Dihua Street in Taipei. Retailers of food products will have to put up signs to identify the original sources of their products or face fines between NT$30,000 and NT$150,000 beginning next month. Those found disguising the origins of products to cheat shoppers will face higher fines. (The China Post file photo)

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