Premier Su Tseng-chang convened the 2020 meeting of the Executive Yuan food safety board Monday, pledging to protect the nation's health by aggressively implementing President Tsai Ing-wen's five-point food safety policy: source control, production management, stronger inspections, tougher penalties and citizen oversight.
During the meeting, the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) presented a briefing covering food safety inspection results, food manufacturers' self-management procedures against COVID-19, and new measures to ensure food safety. In light of public concern over the safety of U.S. pork imports, Premier Su said that the government must protect public health by establishing food import guidelines based on scientific evidence and international standards, requiring clear labeling of product origins, and stepping up inspections and oversight.
The Council of Agriculture (COA) also reported on agricultural food safety efforts and other advanced measures. The premier said the council's work over the past few years to improve food safety have yielded concrete results, including protecting the quality of irrigation water, improving pesticide management, and increasing the area of farmland for growing traceable agricultural products. The government has also put forward medium to long-term plans that will employ a NT$10 billion (US$347.1 million) fund to aid in the transformation and upgrading of the pig farming industry. The fund will be used to stabilize hog farmer incomes, modernize pig farms and slaughterhouses, upgrade meat product cold chains, promote a Taiwan pork label system, expand Taiwan pork exports, install GPS trackers on delivery trucks, implement compulsory mortality insurance for pigs, and manage the supply and demand of traceable pork used in school lunches. All of these efforts are expected to significantly boost the competitiveness of Taiwan's pig farming industry, he pointed out.
With respect to a Ministry of Education briefing on campus food safety and hygiene management, Premier Su said he announced Saturday that primary and middle school lunches nationwide will be prepared using domestic produce and ingredients. To encourage schools to make this shift, the Executive Yuan has already approved a near-doubling of the existing subsidy from NT$3.5 (US$0.12) to NT$6 (US$0.21) per meal per student, to take effect in 2021.
The premier directed the MOHW and COA to work out safeguards, enhance risk assessments, and improve communications to address concerns over residual levels of ractopamine in imported pork meat and internal organs. Premier Su further indicated that all vendors contracted to prepare school lunches will be required to use domestic pork, while subsidies and requirements for domestically produced food and related enterprises should be clearly established. Improving education on the connections between food and agriculture should also be emphasized.