Taiwan to increase food safety budget by 50% for 2017: president

President Tsai Ing-wen (???) pledged Tuesday that the government budget for food safety will be increased by 50 percent for 2017 to strengthen the country's food safety management and inspection system.

Food safety has become an important issue worldwide and her administration has made it one of its top priorities, Tsai said during a speech at a food safety summit held by the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and National Taiwan University's College of Public Health.

The key to maintaining food safety is to establish communication between the government, farmers, food companies and consumers, said Tsai, who took office on May 20.

Once there is any loophole in the process from raw produce to food on the table, it is likely to trigger a food safety crisis, she said.

As part of the its heightened food safety efforts, the government is preparing to set up an independent committee responsible for assessing food safety risks, and it will also step up food inspections and establish a regulatory agency for toxic substances, she said.

Along with the measures, the government will increase its food safety budget by 50 percent next year, with a focus on improving production management systems and stepping up inspection efforts, Tsai said, without providing specific figures.

The government currently allocates about NT$920 million (US$29.01 million) for food safety efforts per year, said Council of Agriculture deputy chief Chen Chi-chung (???), after a Cabinet meeting convened by Premier Lin Chuan (??) in late June.

At the time, Chen said the budget will be increased to NT$1.37 billion in order to support the government's new food safety policies.

Taiwan has been hit by several food safety scandals in recent years, including a case in which toxic plasticizers were found in such items as sports and tea drinks and fruit jams in 2011 and cases of adulterated edible oils in 2014.

Source: Focus Taiwan