The series of food-related scandals in Taiwan in recent years has aroused public concern regarding the safety and reliability of the food supply. In effort to provide a communication platform to enhance understanding of food safety laws and regulations, AmCham Taipei’s Retail Committee conducted a Chinese-language Food Safety Forum at The Sherwood Taipei on October 17. The event was sponsored by Pfizer Ltd.
The program consisted of presentations by three specialists: Fuu Sheu, Director of the Executive Yuan’s Office of Food Safety (OFS); Mark Petry, Chief of the Agriculture Section at the American Institute in Taiwan; and Jenny Yueh-Ing Chang, Executive Director of the International Life Sciences Institute. The moderator was Lucy Sun Hwang, Distinguished Professor in the Food Science and Technology Department at National Taiwan University.
As Fuu Sheu explained, OFS was established directly under the Executive Yuan in October 2014 as a centralized food-safety coordinating platform. The Office oversees the Five-Point Food Safety Reform Policy adopted by the government, entailing strengthened source control, stricter production management, enhanced inspection and testing, heightened vendor liability, and public supervision. Sheu also introduced the Council of Agriculture’s qualified traceable ingredient program for school lunches, and referred to the recent handling of the dioxin-contaminated egg problem as a case study in crisis response and risk communication.
For reference, Mark Petry provided an overview of the U.S. system as governed by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) signed into law by President Obama in January 2011. The legislation places increased emphasis on preventive controls, as well as on inspection, compliance, and response. It also stresses the role of partnerships, including cooperation with state, local, and international agencies. In the most groundbreaking shift, the law holds importers responsible for ensuring that their foreign suppliers have adequate preventive controls in place.
The presentation by Jenny Chang, entitled “The Pivot of an Effective Food Policy Development: Scientific Support,” centered on the role played by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a joint body of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO), in setting international food standards through risk assessment based on sound scientific advice and information analysis.