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June 27, 2017

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Punishment for expired food sales may rise: Jiang

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) yesterday demanded five bureaus and councils strictly enforce food safety regulations and consider the possibility of raising the punishments for people who violate the Act Governing Food Sanitation.

During yesterday's weekly Cabinet meeting, Jiang asked the Department of Health, Council of Agriculture, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Consumer Protection Committee and the Ministry of Justice to be responsible for their roles in recent, highly publicized food scares.

Renowned beauty and body-toning corporation Madenform (媚登峰) was discovered by the Taipei Department of Health to have sold 23 types of expired cosmetic products and two kinds of expired health foods, including face masks that had passed their expiration dates by three years.

The premier said that the health authorities have discovered manufacturers and food vendors who changed the expiration date labels and continued to sell those products.

"Except for the fact that the food sellers and manufacturers want to raise their profits," Jiang said, "it is also the management negligence of health authorities along with all related officials that cause these food safety issues to occur repeatedly."

"All these cases about selling expired products and violating food safety regulations severely affect the public's faith, so it is necessary to raise the punishments to prevent similar cases from happening again."

In early 2013, maleic acid, an industrial substance that is not allowed in Taiwan for use in modified starches, was found in food products such as rice noodles, hot-pot ingredients and tapioca sold throughout Taiwan, which resulted in a revision of food safety regulations.

The newly amended Act Governing Food Sanitation, designed to levy harsher punishments on violators, will take effect on June 21.

Under the revised act, the penalties for violators may reach as high as NT$15 million, a jump from the previous highest figure of NT$6 million.

Whereas food safety violators face only civil charges under the existing act, the amendment opens the door to possible criminal charges, with sentences of up to three years in jail.

Over the past five years, the government has dealt with several food problems such as the 2008 Chinese milk scandal, in which authorities detected melamine-contaminated infant formula, and the 2011 Taiwan food scandal, in which authorities detected plasticizer-contaminated beverages.

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