AFA looks to up fines against food sellers to NT$3 million
By Joy Lee ,The China PostTAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Agriculture and Food Agency (AFA) yesterday said that an amendment will be proposed to raise the maximum fine to NT$3 million for food sellers who put false or misleading labels on food products.
August 29, 2013, 12:22 am TWN
AFA deputy chief Chen Chien-bin yesterday announced that an amendment will soon be proposed to raise the fines for firms that violate the Food Administration Act.
According to the AFA, the amendment will be sent to the Legislative Yuan in September and could be carried out by the end of this year once the amendment is approved.
Sunsuivi, one of the three top-selling rice brands in Taiwan, was accused on Tuesday of selling rice with labels boasting that the product is home grown, when in fact it was poor-quality rice imported from Vietnam. The chairman of the company apologized for the “mislabeling” and promised to allow customers to exchange products with receipts.
Even though Sunsuivi was fined NT$200,000 for violating the act, according to records from AFA, Sunsuivi has violated regulations 18 times in the past two years, but no fines or punishments have ever been levied by relevant authorities.
Chen said that the rice seller has been utilizing legal loopholes to avoid being punished.
“The company has been promising authorities to improve within a month,” Chen said, so the AFA decided to revise the act and increase the fines to stop food sellers from violating regulations over and over again.”
“According to current regulations,” Chen said, “food sellers will not have their food manufacturing licenses revoked after violating regulations three times in a row, and the AFA will consider decreasing the number of chances food sellers have before losing their licenses.”
Sunsuivi Must Compensate: CPC
Consumer ombudsmen for local governments and the Executive Yuan will demand rice seller Sunsuivi compensate consumers for mislabeling imported Vietnamese rice as being locally grown if the company refuses to do so, the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC) said yesterday.
Wu Cheng-hsueh, a representative for the CPC, said that Sunsuivi has not proposed any plans to compensate its customers who purchased the mislabeled packaged rice.
“A local consumer ombudsman already contacted the rice seller on Tuesday to ask the company to come up with a way to compensate its customers other than allowing them to exchange for other products,” Wu said, “but so far no response from the company has been given.”
Wu said that mislabeling cannot be the only reason why the poor-quality rice imported from Vietnam is sold as locally grown rice.
According to Wu, 19 products from Sunsuivi have failed inspections conducted after the news broke out.
Sunsuivi was fined NT$200,000 on Tuesday for mislabeling its products, in accordance with the Food Administration Act.
Exchange Available after 9/10
Sunsuivi yesterday announced that customers who purchased mislabeled products can return or exchange for other products starting from Sept. 10.
After prosecutors and representatives from the AFA left the company”s office after conducting investigation on fraud, Sunsuivi Chairman Lee Tung-chao (§”F”) had a meeting with the company”s lawyer before holding a press conference.
Lee insisted that the incident was the result of negligence by management while the product was being processed and customers will be able to return or exchange products at the three major supermarkets.