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COA to demand price cuts for downgraded packaged rice

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Council of Agriculture (COA) Minister Chen Bao-ji (陳保基) yesterday said that all food sellers have to decrease the price of packaged rice that is downgraded so consumers will not be deceived.

According to the COA, the officials started to enforce inspections on mislabeled packaged rice after many brand name food sellers were discovered to have intentionally mislabeled low-cost rice as more expensive local rice last year.

However, the COA said, instead of improving the quality of rice products, many food sellers chose to change the names of those products or downgrade them on the label without decreasing their prices.

The COA said that food sellers who made changes on labels in order to avoid having their food dealer certificates revoked were effectively lying to customers.

Chen said that the COA cannot fine those food sellers since what they did was not against the regulations, but customers can choose not to purchase those products.

Director Li Tsang-lang (李蒼郎) of the Agriculture and Food Agency (農糧署,AFA) under the COA also said that the Food Administration Act can only govern the labels and quality of rice and food products.

“However, consumers can boycott packaged rice with unreasonable prices,” said Lee.

According to the COA, some food sellers even used markers to change the labels of rice packages.

The COA demanded that all food sellers take downgraded packaged rice off the shelves in order to properly change their labels.

Rice in Bulk Is the Main Issue: Food Seller

A food seller yesterday pointed out that the government should pay more attention to rice that is sold in bulk in order to ensure their quality.

Agriculture and Food Agency (AFA) deputy chief Chen Chien-bin (陳建斌) yesterday said that all the rice sold in bulk should have labels marking their names and origins, and officials will also enforce inspections on those rice packages sold in bulk.

Chen also said that the agency will randomly choose 80 to 90 packages of rice for monthly inspection starting this year.

However, a food seller said that rice that is sold in bulk should be the main target for inspections since most of those products are not well labeled and customers cannot tell the quality of those rice products.

Another food seller said that prices for rice are strictly controlled by the government, so rice sellers cannot increase prices freely based on the consumer price index. Therefore, only some food sellers will intentionally mislabel rice products in order to receive higher profits.

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