The new regulations cover expired goods, products containing traces of insecticide or radiation, food containing industrial additives, and other products where their containers violate safety regulations.
Following the move, businesses can be shuttered temporarily if they are found to have earned NT$10m (US$333,000) from selling illegal or health-harming products.
Hsiao Hui-wen, an FDA division chief, said an immediate order can be issued in cases of suspected transgressions. Businesses that have made NT$30m from the sale of nefarious products, or if their brands are found to be potentially life-threatening, can be shut down immediately and removed from the business registry.
Taiwan beset by food scandals
Taiwan has been no stranger to food scandals in recent years. Indeed, Hsiao pointed out that the country has witnessed almost a dozen major food scandals in the last year alone.
Among the most recent, tens of thousands of eggs were found to be contaminated by the pesticide dioxin, a carcinogen. The outbreak may have originated from contaminated chicken feed, authorities suspect.
Earlier this year, the FDA raided a factory used to manufacture a renowned snack brand, finding that it had used thousands of kilos of expired ingredients used to produce four products, including Hsia Wei Hsien Shrimp Chips.
Inspectors said that Yuzhong Food factory could be charged with fraud and fined up to NT$20m for violating regulations governing food safety and sanitation.
Other scandals and findings
Moreover, harmful bacteria were discovered in 60% of cold drinks tested in Taipei, banned chemicals turned up in tons of bean sprouts in New Taipei, and the country was shocked to learn of a number of cases in which expired meat and seafood — some of it years old — had been relabelled with current dates and sold at retail outlets.
With food-safety scandals continuing to plague Taiwan, even after a raft of regulatory reforms, the country recently introduced a “five-point food safety” policy in which the government promises to “strengthen source control management”, “re-establish the food production-management system”, “strengthen government market-inspection capabilities”, “increase liability for producers and vendors” and “encourage and create oversight platforms”.