The Executive Yuans Office of Food Safety held the “30th Meeting of the Food Safety Joint Inspection Task Force” today (August 18th), examining implementation results of Stage 2 of the “national night market joint inspection,” as well as discussing plans for the inspection of manufacturers for night market food ingredients and materials. The Executive Yuan indicated that Stage 2 of the joint inspection is combined with resources of central and local governments. It targets night markets with high publicity, numerous food stands, fixed locations, and regular business hours, and enforces inspection of high-risk items as well as food hygiene and safety, along with the tracing and examination of the movement of waste edible oil. Through regulating food stands’ ingredient sources and movement of waste edible oil, President Tsai’s policy prospects of “Ten Times More Inspections, Ten Times More Safety, Hundred-fold More Happiness” are thus fulfilled.
The Executive Yuans Food Safety Joint Inspection Task Force started the “national night market joint inspections” during March of this year (2016). Adopting the procedure of “visit first and then inspect,” inspections have proceeded in stages. In Stage 1, the Ministry of Economic Affairs joined forces with the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Environmental Protection Administration, and local governments to visit popular night markets and promote personal hygiene, environmental health, utensil hygiene, equipment hygiene, ingredient sources, and the recycling of waste edible oil to vendors. On the basis of the joint inspection promotion system, the Ministry of Economic Affairs is responsible for supervising local governments’ visitations. According to the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ preliminary survey and statistics, there are about 276 publicly owned or private night markets in Taiwan. Visitation and promotion have been conducted in 216 night markets. It is expected that by the end of October this year, all of Taiwan’s night markets will have undergone visitation.
The Executive Yuan points out that Stage 2 of food safety inspection conducted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare has already been completed in 15 night markets in ten cities/counties of Taiwan. In addition to inspecting whether vendors met food safety and hygiene criteria, it also investigated manufacturers of high-risk raw materials (e.g. sauce, starch, and oil). Two hundred and sixty-nine night market vendors were inspected and verified as not using sauce, starch, or oil past their expiration date. Furthermore, sauces (e.g. thick soy sauce, chili sauce, and doubanjiang) and starch used by night market vendors were tested randomly in the regions of New Taipei City, Taichung City, and Kaohsiung City. A total of 37 samples (28 were of sauces and 9 were of starch) were tested, and among them the preservatives in two samples of chili sauce exceeded the specified limit. Therefore, these two cases have been remitted to local health bureaus.
The Executive Yuan stated that oil, vinegar, and thick soy sauce were included in the special inspection list. Thus the manufacturers of these items have higher inspection ratios, i.e. 100%, 94.4%, and 91.4% respectively. Regarding chili sauce and doubanjiang, because they come from diverse sources, manufacturers of these two items have lower inspection ratios, i.e. 81.4% and 75% respectively. Therefore, these two items are listed as the inspection focus of Stage 3.
During this inspection, the Environmental Protection Administration enforced the inspection of the movement of waste edible oil produced by vendors. A total of 102 vendors were found producing waste edible oil, with more than 90,000 kilograms of waste edible oil being produced each month. Currently, these vendors are required to deliver the oil to qualified channels for recycling in accordance with regulations concerned.
The Executive Yuan indicates that the results of Stage 2 of the investigation of high-risk raw materials shall be used in the planning of Stage 3 inspection, which will involve selecting and enforcing inspection of manufacturers with no business registration, no inspection records in the past or within two years, or with inspection records of not meeting requirements set by law. It is hoped that by tracing food material manufacturers from the consumers end, unregistered or potentially illegal food businesses can be tracked down so as to ensure consumers’ food safety.
The Executive Yuan stated that Taiwan is well known for its food. Therefore, night markets have always been major tourist destinations for international visitors as well as important culinary spots for locals. To fulfill the “source control” aspect of the “Five Links of Food Safety” reform program, the night market food safety joint inspection is being furthered by tracking down food ingredient manufacturers from food consumption venues. While promoting Taiwanese food culture, the program also turns Taiwan into an international model for food safety.