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COA plans to fine falsely-certified agricultural products

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Council of Agriculture (COA, 農委會) plans to revise regulations on the certification of agricultural products (農產品驗證管理辦法) in order to fine food factories which falsely advertise themselves as manufacturers of products which meet Certified Agricultural Standards (CAS), the COA said yesterday.

Many local factories have begun to label all of their merchandise as CAS products, even though only one or two of their products have been CAS-certified by the government, said the COA.

According to the revised law, companies will face fines ranging from NT$60,000 to NT$300,000 if they falsely promote themselves as manufacturers who have attained CAS certification. This new regulation will be applied not only to CAS labeling, but also to the Food Traceability Certification Label (食品產銷履歷) as well as the Organic Agricultural Product Certification (有機農產品驗證) systems.

The COA also emphasized that only products, rather than manufacturers, can attain authorized CAS labels. Moreover, the COA stated its intent to draft new laws to punish makers of products currently bearing CAS labels if they are found to have any food safety issues or violate the Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法). The regulations relating to this issue are now undergoing deliberation by the Ministry of Health and Welfare (衛生福利部).

Responding to major food safety violation controversies which broke this year, the COA has investigated products which currently bear CAS certification. After the COA cancelled 32 food manufacturers' CAS labels, there remain 325 food-processing companies and about 6,700 products which still hold authorization to use the labels. The COA also praised 19 companies which passed CAS standards for each of the past 10 years.

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