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AmCham members 'troubled' by new food safety regulations

TAIPEI -- The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Taipei expressed concerns on Thursday that Taiwan's new regulations on the labeling of food products might affect the operations of its retail members.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare's newly amended food sanitation regulations require the listing of flavoring ingredients on food product labels.

The regulations were adopted following a series of food scares in Taiwan, which involved products containing unsafe or banned substances or being labeled as high quality when they were actually of the cheaper variety.

The requirement to label food ingredients has reportedly irritated many foreign companies and could expose the Coca-Cola Company to the risk of leaking its secret formula.

While AmCham said it understands and supports the government's objective to improve food safety and consumer confidence, it said requiring the full disclosure of flavors used in ingredients would violate the trade secrets of the flavor suppliers and food and beverage companies, and is against international industry practice.

“While no AmCham member companies have yet indicated any intention to reduce their presence in Taiwan, we are nevertheless troubled by several recent developments regarding the Act Governing Food Sanitation,” AmCham said in an e-mailed statement.

Moreover, since production is frequently outsourced to contract manufacturers, requiring the full disclosure of the name and contact information of the production plant is impractical and against international industry practice, AmCham's statement said.

Compliance also may force food companies to violate commercial agreements, according to AmCham.

Disclosure of the local responsible business should be sufficient reference for consumers, the chamber suggested.

“If the Law remains in its current form, it would affect the operations of both international and local Taiwan food companies and could lead to consumers facing higher prices and/or less choice,” AmCham added.

Coca Cola said Wednesday that the disclosure of flavoring ingredients is not in line with international practices in the food industry, and that it has reached a tentative solution with Taiwan's government.

A Food and Drug Administration official responded by saying that the company will have to comply unless it ceases to produce its products in Taiwan.

On Jan. 9, AmCham revealed its members' views on Taiwan's overall business environment as expressed in its 2014 Business Climate Survey.

In the survey, respondents expressed dissatisfaction with Taiwan's bureaucratic obstacles to healthy business operations and cited the need for greater consistency in interpretation of regulations, adherence to the rule of law, and transparency in the regulatory process, the chamber said.

Founded in 1951, AmCham Taipei has more than 1,000 members representing over 500 companies and 27 committees advocating various industry interests.

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