Food safety requires close connections and effective management among all control sectors. Since its establishment in December 2016, the EPA’s Toxic and Chemical Substances Bureau (TCSB) has striven to maintain food safety with source controls by listing them for controls, conducting audits and inspections, and collaborating with other departments. The ultimate goal is for the public to spend a Lunar New Year free from worrying about food safety and health.
The EPA has announced the listing, under Class 4 toxic chemical substances, of 20 types of chemical substances (with a total of 27 specific substances) that pose potential risks to food safety, such as Rhodamine B and Sudan Red G. The listing aims to hold accountable the enterprises toward the top of the industry chain that use these substances, and should prevent the substances from systematically entering food production chains. Based on the new regulations, enterprises are to register and label the said substances and prepare safety-related documentation and obtain approval papers for them. It is prohibited to transfer or sell these substances, including via on online sales platforms.
On 16 January 2019, the amendments were completed for the Toxic and Concerned Chemical Substances Control Act (毒性及關注化學物質管理法), to which a chapter has been added specifically for concerned chemical substances. Recently, there has been an ongoing evaluation of five chemical substances with potential food safety risks, such as lead oxide, to determine whether to list them as concerned chemical substances for control.
For source controls on these substances with potential food safety risks, from 2017 to 2021, the EPA has been annually inspecting over 3,000 enterprises handling chemical ingredients, helping enterprises with voluntary controls, and conducting joint inspections with other departments during holidays. Furthermore, enterprises that sell food additives were screened out as targets for joint inspections in 2018 and 2020.
The EPA stated that it would continue working with the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) and the Council of Agriculture (COA) to safeguard food safety so as to protect producers’ rights and consumers’ health. The work extends from environments at the origin of the food production chain, to the chemical ingredient industry, products from farms, livestock, aquafarms, markets, production sites, and even dining tables. Moreover, deputy administrators or ministers from the three departments jointly hold a seasonal meeting to coordinate environmental protection and food safety, discuss relevant information in real time, and carry out needed measures in advance. Continual monitoring is conducted regarding high-risk regions, and all three departments will be notified immediately if contamination risks to environments, agricultural, livestock, aquaculture products, or the food production chain are found. Measures such as joint monitoring, source tracing, sampling, or emergency response, will then be taken to ensure environmental and food safety for all produce and food products.
The EPA emphasized that it will continue inter-ministerial cooperation and strengthen the production management of all links in the food chain from farm to table in 2022, so as to prevent food from being contaminated during production, and to safeguard the health of residents as they welcome a good New Year.
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, February 2022
- Ministry of Environment