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6-Regulation: Taiwan plans GE food labelling laws



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TITLE:  Taiwan applies international standards for food labeling
SOURCE: The China Post, Taiwan, by Yingrid Ho
        http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/detail.asp?ID=40316&GRP=B
DATE:   Aug 15, 2003

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Taiwan applies international standards for food labeling

As a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Taiwan has made
efforts to conform to its standards. Such standards apply to the nation's
food products, as well as regulations on food labeling. "In general, we
have three areas of law governing labeling issues: food labeling,
medicine labeling, and health food labeling," explained Chen. Taiwan's
food labeling laws require that nutritional information be listed on the
packaging for consumers. "It is a mandatory requirement that any
nutritional claims carry nutritional labeling and comply with the
restrictions prescribed by the Department of Health (DOH)," Chen said. At
present, however, not all foods are required to show a run-down of
nutritional information on food labels. Chen noted that the government
has made progress in the area, "step-by-step the government is bringing
food manufacturers on board with the plan to list nutritional
information." All dairy product and packaged beverages will provide
nutrition labeling this year. Cooking oil and frozen food producers will
need to show their nutritional details as of next year.


New rules

The government is working to apply the nutritional labeling rules to all
packaged food. Chen also explained which type of products fall under the
"food" category, and which do not. "Food labels cannot bear medical
claims, only nutritional facts," he said. "Any mention - explicitly or
implicitly - of a product's medical effects, health benefits, or claims
of healing powers, and the product will no longer be considered a food.
"If a product does, it will be classified as medicine or health food. By
law, we may penalize a food company if it does," he explained.


Restrictions

Chen also explained that the government was working hard to discover if
all food products with additives comply with government restrictions.
This process involves local sanitary bureaus sampling all sorts of foods
obtained locally and detecting their ingredients as well as the amount of
additives. Once a violation is found, the local authority will
immediately issue a recall and publicize the name of the producer on the
Health Department's website. "That's basically how we exercise our power
as a supervisor," Chen said.

As to the government policies to meet the WTO standards and requirements,
Chen said Taiwan's rules are evolving along at roughly the same pace as
western countries. Chen noted however, that Taiwan takes a much more
relaxed position on the labeling of many imported foods, and has less
restrictions on genetically modified (GM) foods. "GM food restrictions
are less strict in Taiwan when compared to other countries. But we are
planning to implement systematic GM labeling in three years," he said.
Regarding imported foods, Chen said Taiwan's policy was conducive to
furthering trade. "Labeling information such as 'country of origin' for
foods imported from a foreign country is not required. This allows our
imports to increase." said Chen.


The website of the Health Department of the Executive Yuan: http://
www.doh.gov.tw
More food labeling information can be found at: http://food.doh.gov.tw/
index1.htm




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