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May 29, 2017

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DPP pushing for new, more effective 'D-Day'

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Spokesman Lin Yu-chang yesterday pushed President Ma Ying-jeou's administration to come up with a new "D-Day" to combat the national plasticizer scare. It has been over a week since the original May 31 battle cry and the number of tainted products has only skyrocketed.

Ma's government pledged that after May 31, the public will no longer need to worry about products containing harmful plasticizers being stocked on shelves. However, reports of new products affected by the toxic spread continue to pop up every day, causing alarm in experts and the public alike Lin argued.

"Mitigating public fears is one of the most important tasks at hand for the government," Lin stressed. The DPP sternly requests for Ma to roll out a "new D-day" and inform the public the precise date on which we can buy items on the market without fear, he added.

Department of Health (DOH) Minister Chiu Wen-da responded by claiming that D-Day did not fail; in fact, the government-initiated crackdown had successfully "cleaned up" the products on the market and greatly minimized risks to national health.

Over the nine days since D-Day, health officials have inspected over 14,000 food vendors and stores nationwide, taking over 20,000 products off shelves, Chiu pointed out.

Despite the DOH's efforts, Lin argued that there was a current lack of manpower in official inspections; the void has left the public at a loss in terms of what is safe to purchase. To speed up the confirmation of foods found safe, the government must roll out an integrated approach where official and private inspection bodies can cover all product inspections.

Websites should be erected where all official announcements regarding products with the safety certification can be made; such platforms should contain updated information to address public inquiries, the DPP spokesperson suggested.

Health concerns, as the result of the plasticizer scare, must also be adequately addressed. To ensure the health of the public, the DPP proposed that the government create a budget covering medical testing and services specific to the food scare. This should also kick start a long-term health risk monitoring and evaluation plan that will eventually provide comprehensive data on the long-term affects of plasticizers on national health, Lin added.

In the future, the government should strengthen the monitoring capacity in its agencies by increasing human and financial resources. Making sure legislators and other officials take part in inspections and cracking down on shady businesses will also help prevent the re-emergence of similar health crises, Lin said.

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