From 31 May 2011, Taiwan’s Department of Health banned the selling and distribution of food products that fall within the following five categories, unless proof was provided that the food products do not contain DEHP or other plasticisers:
- sport drinks,
- fruit juice,
- tea drink,
- fruit jam/fruit nectar or jelly, and
- food in tablet, capsule or powder form.
On 8 June 2011, Taiwan’s Department of Health announced that it had completed the first phase of inspections. This involved spot checks of 16,000 retailers in the nation’s 22 cities and counties, and verification checks of products that could potentially contain plasticisers. Phase one removed 20,000 products that did not meet government standards from shelves.
Source of the problem
Taiwanese authorities have traced the source of the plasticisers to two companies: Yu Shen Chemical Co (昱伸香料有限公司) and Pin Han Perfumery Co (賓漢香料公司). These two companies used the plasticiser as a substitute to palm oil, then sold the tainted final product to over 400 Taiwanese companies. Police have since detained the owners of both companies.
The Minister of Economic Affairs has estimated that this incident has cost Taiwanese business between NT$10-20 billion (AU$33-66 million).
Law changes arising
Taiwan is about to decide on amendments to its Act Governing Food Sanitation (食品衛生管理法) that include:
- expanding the scope of business covered by the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point system,
- requiring quality control to be conducted at every step in the manufacturing process and to be done by on-site technical experts familiar with food sanitation codes,
- increasing maximum fine and imprisonment penalties from NT$300,000 (AU$9,800) to NT$1-10 million (AU$33,000-98,000) and three to five years respectively.
It is anticipated that the legislature will pass these revisions before the end of the current legislative session on 14 June 2011.